Nova Scotia

Public health officials say no sign of COVID-19 community spread in N.S. northern zone

Nova Scotia public health officials say there remains no indication of community spread connected to a recent group of COVID-19 cases in the province's northern health zone.

6 of the province's 7 active cases are in the northern zone; mayors warn against complacency

Nova Scotia brought in mandatory mask rules earlier this month as part of the effort to fight the spread of COVID-19. (Anjuli Patil/CBC)

Nova Scotia public health officials say there remains no indication of community spread connected to a recent group of COVID-19 cases in the province's northern health zone.

There are seven active cases in the province, six of which are in the northern zone, an area that includes Colchester County, Cumberland County and Pictou County.

A Health Department spokesperson said investigations so far point to clusters that are small and defined.

"Public health has been working to identify and test close contacts, and those identified have been self-isolating," Marla MacInnis said in an email.

"As investigations proceed, if community spread is identified, we'll ensure the public is made aware."

On Sunday, the province reported its 65th death connected to the virus — a man older than 80 in the northern zone. His case was connected to a previously reported case involving someone from outside the Atlantic bubble.

Other than to say the man was not a resident of a long-term care home, the province has provided no other information about the case, citing privacy concerns.

Concerns about complacency

Jim Ryan, mayor of the Town of Pictou, said he thinks the province's overall low case numbers compared to other areas might have caused some people to become too comfortable, but it's important to remember COVID-19 is still in Nova Scotia and people must act accordingly.

Ryan said he understands why Public Health must be careful about what information is released and to protect people's privacy, but he said sometimes a lack of information can lead to other unintended problems.

"When you don't get the stories, at least some story from public health, then you're kind of relying on social media," he said.

"You're relying on Facebook and sometimes that information isn't as clear or as correct, perhaps, as you'd like to think it is."

New Glasgow Mayor Nancy Dicks said the recent cluster of cases in the zone has been a wake-up call for people in the area.

Dicks said she isn't aware of the virus being present in her community, but she's reminding people to follow public health protocols and operate as though the virus is in the area.

"Oftentimes we get complacent, and I know when many of the cases were in the central region we sort of maybe let our guard down a little bit here, and we know we can't do that. We just can't."

Dicks, Ryan and other municipal leaders in the northern zone CBC contacted on Monday said they remain confident in the way Public Health is investigating cases and believe when there's information they and residents need, it is released.

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