A heated Premier Stephen McNeil called out Nova Scotians who continue to disobey restrictive public health measures on Thursday, as the province announced its second death connected to COVID-19.
The province announced that a woman in her 90s with underlying medical conditions died in the Cape Breton Regional Hospital on Wednesday as a result of complications related to COVID-19.
“To the family, there are no words,” McNeil said at the beginning of Thursday’s press briefing. “I want you to know that we as a province are here for you.
“We will be thinking about you over this Easter weekend. As you grapple with your loss, we will be there with you.”
The province also announced 31 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the provincial total to 373. Of the new cases, 27 were identified in the central zone, two in the western zone, and one each on the northern and eastern zones.
The total breakdown of where cases have been identified in Nova Scotia is as follows:
- Central zone: 262
- Western zone: 44
- Eastern zone: 34
- Northern zone: 33
The QEII Health Sciences Centre’s microbiology lab completed 980 Nova Scotia tests on Wednesday. In total, 12,177 COVID-19 tests have come back negative.
Forty-seven per cent involve male patients and 53 per cent involve female patients.
There are now 10 patients in hospital, with four in an intensive care unit.
‘How many more Nova Scotians are going to have to die?’
McNeil had strong words for those who continue to ignore public health orders.
“As long as Nova Scotians continue to act irresponsible and goes and stands in the line at Costco, this pandemic is going to continue to go on,” an angry McNeil said. “What happens if there’s a health-care worker there? What happens if you pass it off to a family, who goes on and passes it on to their grandparents?
“All we’re asking is for people to stand six feet apart.”
McNeil and chief public health officer Dr. Robert Strang have been continuously pressed this week on when the province plans to release its COVID-19 projection modelling.
In response, McNeil said none of the modelling matters if Nova Scotians don’t follow the rules.
“We just announced to a second Nova Scotia family today who lost a loved one due to this virus,” McNeil continued.
“How many more Nova Scotians are going to have to die before people understand this is a deadly virus?”
Summer is going to look ‘somewhat different,’ Strang says
Strang said the return to normal in Nova Scotia won’t happen any time soon.
He said it’s likely the first wave of COVID-19 will last six to 10 weeks, then there will be a “slow decrease” after that.
“Likely, it’s into June that we can start to lift some of the measures that we’ve put in place,” Strang said. “What that exactly looks like, I don’t know for sure.”
Strang says the restrictive measures will be lifted slowly, as they watch the progression of the disease. He said June is a tentative projection based on how the virus is expected to progress, adding that the summer is going to look “somewhat different” than most.
He said the province very well may receive a second wave in the fall and a third in 2021.
“It may not be as severe as the first wave because we have some immunity, but I think the overall message is there’s no short-term solution here.”
Strang added the restrictions will likely be tightened and loosened “several times” over the coming months as a result of that.
McNeil concluded that he and Dr. Strang will not be holding press briefings over the long weekend, adding that the next will be held Monday.
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.
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