NOTE: This week is now over. For the very latest news, please go here. But for an informative look back at exactly how Nova Scotia responded to COVID-19 in realtime, keep on reading.
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Editor's note: In its 28 years The Coast has never been a just-the-facts news service, but for these strange times this news centre offers quick-hit updates.
With the Atlantic bubble open today, it’s a good sign that Nova Scotia is reporting no new COVID-19 cases. Our bubblemates Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador and New Brunswick are all similarly free of new cases.
New Brunswick has two active cases, and Nova Scotia its recent three; that is all the known C19 currently inside the bubble. This is a sharp contrast to the rest of the country, where yesterday the other six provinces had a combined 350 new cases diagnosed, and even Nunavut announced a “presumptive” case, which will be the territory’s first case ever.
But knowing the risks are statistically low on the east coast is a different thing from feeling safe inside the bubble. Provincial borders are now checkpoints, with different provinces having different standards to ensure each visitor is a legitimate Atlantic Canadian who should be allowed in without the requirement to self-isolate for two weeks. And after crossing the border, it might be hard for people to chill in the wider world after these many weeks spent locking down and physical distancing.
To help smooth the transition, at the end of Friday’s webcast COVID briefing premier Stephen McNeil encouraged Nova Scotians to extend the welcome mat. “This weekend when you see visitors from Atlantic Canada, don't forget: they're nervous too,” McNeil said. “They haven't left their province in almost four months, but they've come to see family, spend money and rediscover Nova Scotia. And that's what we want our own citizens to do as well.
”So get out there. Say hi to a tourist. Thank them for coming. Do it in the Nova Scotia way—with a smile. If you're wearing your mask, give them a wave. And of course, do it from a distance.”
For the third day in a row, the province is reporting a new case of COVID-19 has been diagnosed. Like the others, this one is travel-related. Unlike them, the patient lives in the Western health zone (think Yarmouth, Digby, Bridgewater).
As we reported yesterday, neither of the first two cases were connected to last Friday’s WestJet flight that the Nova Scotia Health Authority issued a C19 exposure warning about. We’ve asked the province if today’s case is related to the flight, and will update you when we find out.
Travel is the whole reason the world is in the middle of a pandemic, and travel is going to be the most fraught part of all reopening and economic activity for the foreseeable future now that the coronavirus has colonized the planet. As one small, local example, witness WestJet flight WS248. Today the Nova Scotia Health Authority put out an advisory about “potential COVID-19 exposure” on that flight last Friday.
Here are more details from the press release: “NSHA Public Health is advising of potential exposure to COVID-19 on WestJet flight WS 248 on June 26 from Toronto to Halifax. It departed Toronto at 10:00 am and landed in Halifax at 1:04 pm. While anyone on the flight could have been exposed, based on Public Health’s investigation to date, passengers in rows 16, 17, 18, 19, 20 and 21 seats A-C are more likely to have had close contact. Passengers in these seats are asked to call 811 for advice.”
So that’s last Friday’s Toronto-to-Halifax flight that left at 10am and arrived just after 1pm. Everyone on the flight faces some risk of being exposed to the virus, but the experts working this case think people sitting on the left side of the plane in rows 16 through 21 are at higher risk. If you were one of those passengers, call 811.
This advisory arrives as Nova Scotia has gotten two new travel-related cases. Does that mean those two patients were on that flight? We asked the NSHA that question, and the answer is a definitive no.
“Public Health have told me that the two new cases from the last two days are not related to the flight discussed in the release,” NSHA spokesperson David Blomme told us by email, Wednesday at 7pm.
That means we have the two recent travel-related cases—reported yesterday and today, with no report of them being connected—plus whoever was exposed on that plane. As the NSHA points out in its advisory, those passengers might not develop symptoms until next Friday, July 10.
Ahhhh travel. It can make you want to just stay the blazes home.
For the second day in a row, the province is reporting a new case of COVID-19. Like yesterday’s case—which broke both a 20-day no-case streak and the province’s irrational hope of maybe, just maybe being done with the coronavirus for good—this one is related to travel and the patient lives in the Central health zone.
In a slight twist, the province’s news release includes this detail: “The new case is a Nova Scotian who travelled outside Canada.”
Public health head Robert Strang has become allergic to giving out the slightest personal information related to cases, and the fact the new patient was travelling internationally feels (in our humble opinion) like something Strang wouldn’t normally release. Yesterday’s case, for example, was simply “related to travel,” whether that’s Moncton or Marrakesh we couldn’t begin to speculate. But today’s case definitely wasn’t Moncton!
Maybe Strang wants to give otherwise-idle minds something to think about this July 1 holiday.
Well, we had a good run there. Twenty days in a row without a single case of C19, Nova Scotia’s longest streak in our history of COVID-19. A history that is shockingly brief, as today’s new case reminds us.
The patient lives is in the Central health zone, the NS Health Authority region that includes Halifax but also sprawls to Windsor, Hubbards and Sheet Harbour. Which means we can definitely say the new case is not in Cape Breton, or Yarmouth or the border area around Amherst, but we can’t say a whole lot more.
The government reports that the “new case is related to travel and the individual had been self-isolating since returning to the province, as required.” So with any luck (and strict adherence to the quarantine protocol), we won’t see spread beyond any people who chose to go into isolation with the new patient.
"Today's case shows that we cannot be complacent about this virus,” said top doc Robert Strang by press release. “Living with COVID-19 is part of our new normal and no one should let their guard down.”
Premier Stephen McNeil was also on brand with a sober hint that disease management, not eradication, is the current goal: “Nova Scotia will see more cases.”
Another Nova Scotia day, another provincial report letting us know there are no new COVID-19 cases to report. This is 20 days in a row—just one more are we are at 21 days, three full weeks, well on the way to the two-incubation-cycle milestone just over the horizon at four weeks. Keep up the great work everybody, and soon we will really be able to relax into our virus-free state!
The collection of news updates from the June 22 week is here.
June 15 week is here.
June 8 week is here.
June 1 week is here.
May 25 week is here.
May 18 week is here.
May 11 week is here.
May 4 week is here.
April 27 week is here.
April 20 week is here.
April 13 week is here.