Community clusters of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia all resolved
Fairview, Dartmouth North and Preston-Lake Echo-Lawrencetown were previously identified as COVID-19 hotspots
There are no more community clusters of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia, according to the province's top medical official.
Previously, public health identified areas in Fairview, Dartmouth North and Preston-Lake Echo-Lawrencetown as having "clusters" of cases. Those outbreak clusters have all been resolved, Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer, confirmed at a press briefing on Tuesday.
"We're now at a place where the number of cases, even within HRM, is low enough that we don't have any that meet that threshold," he said.
"We're now seeing very sporadic new cases occurring in communities. Even in HRM, there's no indication of significant, ongoing community transmission, all of which is where we want to be."
For the second day in a row, Nova Scotia officials announced just one new case of COVID-19 on Tuesday.
"As our testing continues, we are flattening the curve when it comes to COVID and seeing the number of positives go down," Premier Stephen McNeil said during a press briefing.
"We need to continue to work to make sure we flatten this curve so we can move back to somewhat of a normal life."
1,020 confirmed cases in province
There are now 1,020 confirmed cases in the province. Of those, 48 people have died and 864 have recovered.
No new deaths related to the virus were announced on Tuesday.
Strang said while it's "good news" to see the numbers go down, he wants to "caution everyone against reading too much into any single day or few days."
"We are in a long-term situation and we need to have sustained changes before we can make definitive conclusions," he said.
Strang said he would like to see a trend of a minimum of two weeks of low or no cases before "we could start to move into the recovery strategy." Ideally, he'd like it to be for four weeks.
McNeil said when the province is ready to reopen, he wants to be sure the rules are clear.
"Restaurants know what they have to do on day one, that cosmetologists know what they have to do on day one, that dental offices across this province know what they have to do on day one and that's what our focus will be," he said.
Nine people are in hospital with four in intensive care.
There are three licensed long-term care homes and unlicensed seniors facilities in Nova Scotia with active cases.
According to the province, Northwood's Halifax campus currently has 157 residents and eight staff with cases. Another facility, not named by the province, has one staff member with an active case and a third facility has a resident with an active case.
The province's numbers do not balance when counting the number of confirmed cases, recoveries and deaths.
In a statement, the province said its data comes from different sources, like long-term care homes and public health. It said there may be delays in the information received that "result in the data not reconciling."
Strang said the province is working "to become more consistent and resolve this issue."
He said the most accurate number is the provincial number, not the long-term care numbers that lag behind.
Retrieving items from schools
As reported last week, students in Nova Scotia will not be returning to the classroom this school year.
Students looking to retrieve their belongings will have an opportunity to do beginning May 25 by appointment.
Regional centres for education throughout the province will be in touch with students and families in the near future with more details.
Smoking, vaping and COVID-19
Strang said smokers and vapers who contract COVID-19 are at a higher risk of developing more severe symptoms.
He said there are direct links with smoking and harm to the respiratory system. Smoking also increases the risk of other diseases, which create other vulnerabilities to COVID-19 such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer, he said.
Smoking, Strang said, will also impede somebody's ability to recover from COVID-19.
He advised smokers and vapers to take advantage of resources to quit. He said family doctors, pharmacists and other health-care workers can help. He said calling 811 can lead to services that help people quit. He said Tobacco Free Nova Scotia is another good resource.
Strang said if people are thinking about quitting, now is the time to do it.
Symptoms to look for
As of Monday, the province has 34,204 negative test results. The QEII Health Sciences Centre's microbiology lab completed 427 Nova Scotia tests on May 11.
The province recently expanded the list of symptoms being screened for COVID-19. They are:
- New or worsening cough.
- Sore throat.
- Runny nose.
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.
International Nurses Day
McNeil ended the press briefing by acknowledging International Nurses Day and all the hard work nurses across the province have been doing during the pandemic.
"During COVID-19, they've played a critical role in keeping Nova Scotians safe. And I want to express my appreciation to all the nurses across our province, not only for what you're doing through COVID, but what you've been doing for decades," he said.
McNeil said nurses are "health-care heroes" and encouraged people to "give them a nod, a wave or a shout-out on social media."
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With files from Shaina Luck