N.S. reports one more death at Northwood, three new cases of COVID-19

Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health, provides an update on COVID-19 during a news conference in Halifax on May 8, 2020.

Nova Scotia is reporting one more death related to COVID-19 and three new cases of the virus.

The most recent death occurred at the Northwood long-term care home in Halifax.

To date, there have been 47 COVID-19 deaths in the province. Of the deaths, 41 have been at Northwood.

Care home fatalities

“On behalf of all Nova Scotians, I extend deep condolences to those who are grieving,” said Premier Stephen McNeil. “It is our collective duty to do all we can to slow the spread of COVID-19. We will get through this best by working together and supporting one another.”

Eleven long-term care and seniors’ facilities have been affected by COVID-19, but only two facilities have active cases of the virus at this time, and all but one of the active cases are at Northwood.

On Friday, Northwood reported a total of 324 confirmed cases of the virus, involving 229 residents and 95 employees.

As of Saturday, 157 active cases of COVID-19 at Northwood’s Halifax location remain. Meanwhile, there are 31 staff with active cases.

Of the 95 employees with COVID-19, 49 have recovered.

One other long-term care facility, which has not been named, has one staff member with an active case of COVID-19.

Three new cases

The province reported three new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 1,011.

The QEII Health Sciences Centre's microbiology lab completed 598 tests on Friday.

“COVID-19 is a terrible disease, but we all play a role in how it impacts our province,” said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health. “Whatever you do this weekend, don’t let your guard down. Enjoy the outdoors with only those you live with and connect with others virtually. Maintain social distance, wash your hands, stay home as much as possible and clean high-use surfaces.”

Case breakdown

To date, Nova Scotia has 33,190 negative test results.

Of the confirmed cases, 743 people have recovered, and their cases are considered resolved. This leaves 268 active cases in the province.

The confirmed cases range in age from under 10 to over 90.

Five people are currently in hospital. Two of those patients are in the intensive care unit.

Sixty-two per cent of cases are female and 38 per cent are male.

There are cases across the province, but most have been confirmed in the Nova Scotia Health Authority’s central zone, which contains the Halifax Regional Municipality.

The latest cases were confirmed in the central zone. The western, northern and eastern zones are reporting no additional cases at this time.

  •     Western zone; 54 cases
  •     Central zone: 864 cases
  •     Northern zone: 43 cases
  •     Eastern zone: 50 cases

Public health is working to identify and test people who may have come in close contact with the confirmed cases.

Reopening plan for Nova Scotia

On Friday, Strang presented a rough outline of the plan that would be used to lift COVID-19 restrictions, based on national public health guidelines released this week.

He said the initial phase, for which a date has not yet been set, would see the reopening of non-essential businesses and daycares and a resumption of non-urgent health-care services, such as day surgeries and doctor visits.

Additional outdoor activities would also be allowed, along with essential gatherings such as funerals, and the number of people allowed at gatherings would be increased from five to 10 people.

Strang said the first phase and all subsequent phases would be followed by a 28-day trial period to ensure the measures had not aggravated the spread of the virus.

"Our objective is to move carefully and reopen things as much as possible, but doing things in a safe manner," Strang said.

"There are no firm dates on this."

Schools closed for remainder of school year

Also on Friday, the province announced that all schools will remain closed for the remainder of the school year, which will officially end on June 5.

Students will continue their education at home until June 5.

Teachers will continue to work until the end of June to finalize assessments and report cards.

Symptoms and self-isolation

Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 is required to self-isolate at home, away from the public, for 14 days.

Anyone who travels outside Nova Scotia must also self-isolate for two weeks.

Nova Scotians who experience two or more of the following symptoms should take an online questionnaire to determine if they should call 811 for further assessment:

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

The provincial state of emergency, which was first declared on March 22, has been extended to May 17.

The province has eased some public health measures, but the rules related to physical distancing and social gatherings -- keeping six feet apart and not gathering in groups more than five -- remain in place.