“We’ll be remaining status quo for two more weeks at least, with two exceptions,” said Robert Strang during a press conference.
Starting Jan. 25, sports, arts and cultural groups will be allowed to have 50 participants, up from 25. This still applies to participants only, and spectators are still not allowed. But Strang said that sports groups will now be permitted to play some games with nearby teams.
“Any sport competition that brings teams together or individuals that don’t regularly compete against each other, we’re not allowing that,” he said.
For sports that are more individual, like cross country, wrestling or gymnastics, the province will allow meetups, sans spectators. The main point Strang stressed was that games or competitions have to be between athletes that “regularly compete against each other.”
That means no tournaments or provincial meetups, and especially no travelling out of province.
Strang and McNeil also announced four new cases, one of which is an Acadia University student. Strang said the situation around the case—where the student only began feeling unwell after the typically observed 14-day incubation period—was uncommon but not abnormal.
The student had started attending in-person classes before they began feeling unwell and got tested. “The fact that he was out and about doesn’t mean he didn’t comply with what he was allowed to do,” Strang told the public.
Acadia has issued exposure warnings for in-person classes and their Student Union Building and says there are 10 identified close contacts of the infected student who are all self-isolating.
Strang said the province is happy with the way the school is managing the case. “Because of the existing protocols that Acadia has for in-class learning, already that creates an environment so that people would be considered, at the most, moderate risk even with a known case of COVID in that classroom,” Strang said.
Friday also marked the first confirmed report of two new virus strains in the province, both the UK variant and the South African variant. But both the cases actually trace back at least three weeks, to December, due to the time delay in confirming virus sequencing with the national lab. Strang said he didn't see the delay in info concerning.
Strang said both cases were travel-related and neither caused community spread. But one did spread the virus to their household, whose tests unfortunately weren’t sent for further testing. “There’s a very low amount of virus in their samples and we’re unable to send their samples for sequencing,” said Strang, but added that it’s very likely they had the variant too.
As of end-of-day on January 21, Nova Scotia has given out 10,575 vaccines, 2,705 of those being second doses. (That's just 0.003 percent of the population.)
Strang said about 27 or 28 vaccines have gone to waste. “Only 0.3 percent have been wasted because they haven’t been able to be used within the allotted time once they’re thawed.”
A delay in the Pfizer vaccines means NS is not scheduled to receive any Pfizer vaccine next week, although there will be a regular shipment of Moderna and “limited” Pfizer vaccines arriving in early February.
Strang also said the province has “no certainty of vaccine delivery” from Moderna and Pfizer after the end of February—another reason to hold back the second dose of the latter. Strang said no vaccination clinics will fully shut down if delays continue, but they may reduce hours and how many people they’re seeing.
“We want to as much as possible have all of our current sites operating as much as we can,” he said.