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.
Today is almost identical to yesterday in terms of COVID-19. There are two new cases, both travel-related, in the Central health zone (Halifax and widely surrounding area). There’s also been one recovery, for a net increase in the number of active cases by one.
And just like yesterday, the NS Health Authority’s reporting possible C19 exposure on Toronto-to-Halifax flight 604. Here is the the relevant part of the NSHA email:
Nova Scotia Health Public Health is advising of potential exposure to COVID-19 on the following flight:
Air Canada flight 604 on October 15 from Toronto to Halifax. It departed Toronto at 8 am. Passengers in rows 21-27 seats D, E and F are more likely to have had close contact. Passengers in these seats are asked to continue to self-isolate as required, monitor for symptoms and call 811 for advice.
It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus on these flights may develop symptoms up to, and including, October 29. Those present on these flights but not in the identified rows and seats should continue to self-isolate as required and self-monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 until October 26.
Before this gets out of hand, we are stating for the record that we do not like this kind of repetitive C19 behaviour. It’s great to have “no new cases, nobody died” day after day after day. After day. Bring it on! But it’s already clear that “two cases, infected flight” sucks.
There are two new cases in Nova Scotia, and one person who recently got infected has recovered, leaving us with five active cases.
“The two new cases are in the Central Zone and are both related to travel outside Atlantic Canada,” says the province’s COVID-19 report, emailed to media. “The two individuals have been self-isolating, as required.”
The Nova Scotia Health Authority also published a couple alerts today. One alert is about potential C19 exposure on a pair of flights from Toronto to Halifax. Here are the details, cut and pasted from the NSHA email:
Air Canada flight 610 on October 12 from Toronto to Halifax. It departed Toronto at 2:10 pm. Passengers in rows 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 seats D, E, F are more likely to have had close contact. Passengers in these seats are asked to self-isolate as required, monitor for symptoms and call 811 for advice.The other NSHA alert email was for a taxi:
Air Canada flight 604 on October 12 from Toronto to Halifax. It departed Toronto at 8 am. Passengers in rows 27, 28, 29, 30 seats A, B and C are more likely to have had close contact. Passengers in these seats are asked to continue to self-isolate as required, monitor for symptoms and call 811 for advice.
The advisory is related to an individual(s) who accessed a cab departing the Halifax International Airport on October 12 between 5-6 pm, travelling to a residence in Halifax. The advisory is being issued out of an abundance of caution.
There is no official connection drawn between the new cases, the flights and/or the cab ride. Each email is its own discrete collection of facts, refusing to consider other facts swirling around at the same time, not helping citizens understand how widely (or narrowly) the disease is circulating.
But unless there’s a big Covid coincidence, someone boarded a flight to Halifax last Monday at 3:10pm Atlantic time, then took a cab into the city after they arrived. That’s one case. The other case comes via the person who flew out of Toronto that same morning. Early on in each person’s required two-week quarantine, they developed the symptoms that lead to a C19 test and today’s announcement.
This is Nova Scotia’s system, and it seems to be working. Not that you'd know it from the government.
Because it’s Friday, and because obviously the bad news is a new case, let’s start with the great news. You know that C19 patient who’s been in the ICU since September 22? Three and a half weeks later, it looks like they are not just out of intensive care but out of the hospital completely! What a welcome recovery.
Well, not a complete recovery. Today’s COVID-19 update from the province did indeed announce a new case, in the Central health zone, related to travel outside of Atlantic Canada. (Hint to anyone looking for an easy way to reduce infection risk: don’t leave the Atlantic bubble.) The provincial report says “Nova Scotia has four active cases”—that would be the three we had yesterday, plus the one today—while at the same time, “No one is in hospital.” So the person who was in the ICU yesterday must have recovered from the coronavirus disease enough to get out of the hospital, but is still considered to have an active case of C19.
The government also extended the state of emergency. It is now set to expire Sunday, November 1, unless this bi-weekly extension ritual is performed yet again—as it has been every fortnight since the two-week SOE was first declared on March 22.
Lots of positive developments in Nova Scotian COVID-19 today. The province is reporting no new cases—that’s five days in a row—and a patient has recovered, so now only three people are known to have it here. Nerve-rackingly, the patient who’s spent more than three weeks in the ICU is not the person who recovered, but no recovery is a bad recovery.
The Northern health zone has now been case-free for two solid weeks, a full C19 incubation cycle, so it’s graduated from the cautionary yellow colour on our map to smooth-sailing green.
And the COVID Alert app now works in Nova Scotia!
Nova Scotia is late to the COVID Alert party; Alberta and British Columbia are the only provinces left to arrive. New Brunswick, PEI, Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan were already online. But as with recoveries, no addition to the anti-C19 toolbox—joining such trusty equipment as masks, soap and water, careful socializing, stranger danger distancing and a two-week quarantine on outsiders—is a bad addition.
Here’s our story from August about how the app works. You can download the app for iPhones here, and Android here.
For the fourth day in a row, Nova Scotia’s COVID-19 report is stuck on no new cases, four active cases, one of those active patients in the ICU. We’d love to see that person get safely out of intensive care—it’s been more than three weeks—but otherwise it’s a welcome report.
Premier Stephen McNeil and top doc Robert Strang are holding one of their used-to-be-daily-now-they're-occasional webcast briefings today at 3pm. You can watch live at novascotia.ca/stayinformed/webcast, or catch it later at the Nova Scotia government's YouTube page.
We are sorry to tell you The Coast won’t be attending this briefing. We are not-at-all sorry to let you know it’s because The Coast’s skeleton staff is tied up producing a print issue that comes out tomorrow! This will be only our second printed edition since the pandemic started, and with any luck it will be the first of three that come out before 2021.
So we hope you enjoy the briefing, but we hope you enjoy tomorrow’s issue even more. Now if you'll excuse us, we have to get back to our deadline.
With the provincial COVID-19 update reporting no new cases, Nova Scotia now holds the current Canadian record for case-free days in a row. But this record comes with three caveats.
First, it’s only the record among the 10 provinces. The three territories of the North are on a completely different C19 path from southern Canada, as the Yukon hasn’t had a case in more than two months, and Nunavut has never had a case of its own (although workers from elsewhere have been diagnosed in Nunavut).
Second, it’s three days. And if you were looking at the spreadsheet of national C19 numbers that we obsessively maintain, you’d see that as of yesterday, both Alberta and British Columbia had also gone three days without reporting a case. Making you wonder why Nova Scotia gets the streak record when Alberta and/or BC could theoretically hit four days today, besting Nova Scotia’s three days. The reason is that BC and Alberta don’t bother announcing their new case numbers on weekends and holidays, so their “streaks” are actually reporting errors. BC is averaging about 115 cases per day lately, so it won’t be a surprise if 350 cases are announced today (which could happen as late as 8:30pm Atlantic time) to catch up on the long weekend. Alberta, meanwhile, should be more than 600 cases today, given the current trend that saw 578 cases reported last Monday after a two-day weekend.
Third, it’s ONLY three days. Which means the outbreak growing in the provinces west of the east coast is breaching the Atlantic bubble with more regularity. PEI, NS and Newfoundland and Labrador were routinely racking up week-plus streaks through September.
The more important streak in Nova Scotia is that person with C19 who is still in the ICU. Their case and ICU status were first announced Tuesday, September 22—three full weeks ago today. Being in intensive care so long definitely speaks to a serious case of C19, but it also means that person is getting great care and has a lot of people working for their recovery. We wish them a full return to health, no matter how long it takes.
COVID-19 took Thanksgiving Monday off, bringing no new cases to Nova Scotia. There are known to be four active cases in the province currently, with one of those patients (still) in the ICU.
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