Nova Scotia

COVID-19 cases dwindling in N.S., but community spread continues

Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health, Dr. Robert Strang, says 10 new cases of COVID-19 over the long weekend is "good news," but because of ongoing community spread, he says people must "remain vigilant" with public health restrictions.

Dr. Robert Strang says Nova Scotia is reaching the end of the virus's first wave

Nova Scotia Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang says even with few new cases of COVID-19, people must 'remain vigilant' with public health restrictions. (CBC)

COVID-19 is still spreading by community transmission in Nova Scotia, but the numbers are low and Premier Stephen McNeil says more public health restrictions could be lifted by early June.

The province reported one new case of the virus Tuesday, bringing the total to 1,044. Of those, 32 are active cases and most are connected to long-term care facilities. 

Twenty-seven of the province's active cases are residents and staff at Northwood.

Nine people are currently in hospital, with five of those in intensive care.

On Tuesday, the province reported one new death at the Northwood long-term care facility in Halifax. A total of 50 residents there have died from the virus, accounting for all but six COVID-19 deaths in Nova Scotia.

Premier Stephen McNeil and Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health, spoke at a press briefing Tuesday afternoon, which was the first time they spoke publicly since introducing a bubble policy and reopening access to some outdoor activities on Friday.

Strang reiterated Tuesday that bubble families have to be mutually exclusive, but he said it's OK to get together with friends and family from outside chosen family bubbles, but they must respect physical distancing guidelines and cap gatherings at five people.

Strang said it's best to gather outside and there should be "no hugs, no handshakes," and no sharing of food and drinks.

Medication limits relaxed

On Tuesday, the Nova Scotia College of Pharmacists announced they have loosened the 30-day prescription limit. Pharmacies can now dispense prescription quantities as needed, for medications that have a stable supply.

McNeil said Business Minister Geoff MacLellan will conclude consultations with the business sector this week about how to reopen parts of the economy. He said no businesses will be allowed to reopen until the necessary public health protocols are in place to ensure they can operate safely.

"If we get this right, we could be ready by early June," McNeil said.

The Nova Scotia Health Authority's COVID-19 map for Tuesday, May 19, 2020. (Nova Scotia Health Authority)

Over the long weekend, the province reported a total of 10 new cases of COVID-19. All of them were in the central zone, which includes Halifax.

Strang said half of the weekend's new cases are residents and staff at Northwood, three were contacts of known cases and one case was travel-related. Public health is attributing one of the cases to community spread.

"The low cases over the weekend really is good news and it continues to be encouraging of how we see the epidemiology is evolving," Strang said.

But he cautioned that the persistence of community spread indicated a need to "remain vigilant" with public health restrictions.

Health authority staff cases

On Tuesday, the Nova Scotia Health Authority said 30 staff have had COVID-19, but 25 of them are now considered recovered:

  • Eastern zone — five of six cases recovered.
  • Northern zone — one of two cases recovered.
  • Central zone — 18 of 20 cases recovered.
  • Western zone — one of two cases recovered.

COVID-19 symptoms

The following is a list of symptoms for COVID-19:

  • Fever.
  • New or worsening cough.
  • Sore throat.
  • Runny nose.
  • Headache.

Anyone with two or more of those symptoms should visit 811's website for a self-assessment questionnaire to determine if 811 should be called for further assessment.