‘We are in a long-term situation’: Strang urges caution despite decline in coronavirus cases

Click to play video: 'Parts of Nova Scotia with fewer cases of COVID-19 may reopen earlier'
Parts of Nova Scotia with fewer cases of COVID-19 may reopen earlier
WATCH: While the province isn’t reopening its economy quite yet, Premier McNeil says they are looking into opening only certain industries earlier, and in parts with fewer cases of the coronavirus. Alicia Draus reports – May 12, 2020

Despite a recent stretch of single-digit daily increases in coronavirus cases, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health says it will still be a while until things are back to normal in the province.

The province announced just one new case on Monday, bringing the province’s total to 1,020. Of those, 108 remain active. There are now a total of 864 recoveries in Nova Scotia and 48 deaths.

It was the second straight day that Nova Scotia reported just one new COVID-19 case.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Nova Scotia reports additional death at Northwood, 1 more case across province

Speaking at a press briefing Tuesday, Dr. Robert Strang cautioned against reading too much into any single day.

“We are in a long-term situation and we need to have sustained changes before we can make definitive conclusions,” Strang said.

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The QEII Health Sciences Centre’s microbiology lab completed 427 Nova Scotia tests on Monday. The one new case was identified in Nova Scotia’s central health zone.

Here is a breakdown of where cases have been identified in Nova Scotia by health zone:

  • Central: 871
  • Western: 54
  • Northern: 44
  • Eastern: 51

Sixty-two per cent of the cases involve female patients, while 38 per cent are male.

There are now a total of 34,204 negative test results. Confirmed cases range in age from under 10 to over 90. Nine individuals are currently in hospital, four of those in intensive care.

Recovery strategy remains weeks away

Strang says public health will be looking for a 14-day trend of few to no cases of COVID-19 before it considers entering its recovery strategy.

Ideally, Strang said, it would be closer to 28 days.

“Two weeks or 14 days is one incubation period for COVID-19, and ideally, from a public health perspective, we have two incubation periods,” he said.

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McNeil said as the province considers its reopening plan, it’s possible that some industries will be able to open first in parts of the province that have seen lower case numbers.

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“If you’re a dentist whose clientele are in a certain part of the province, I think we can look at that,” McNeil said. “But if it’s shopping or if it’s opening up malls, it’s nonsensical. It goes against the theory, because people will leave and travel from HRM to whatever part of the province where the malls are open.”

He added that when the province opens up its economy, he wants to ensure people understand the rules.

“We want to make sure that as we open up the economy, that restaurants know what they have to do on day one, that cosmetologists know what they have to do on day one, that dental offices across this province know what they have to do on day one,” he said.

“That’s what our focus will be on.”

Some Northwood staff still testing positive

Strang said the province is “examining in detail” why additional staff at Northwood Manor in Halifax continue to test positive for the coronavirus.

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“It’s an indication when you have health-care workers caring on an ongoing, intensive basis with people with COVID-19, how easy that virus can be to transmit,” Strang said.

The long-term care home is still dealing with a devastating outbreak that has resulted in the deaths of 42 residents. A total of 232 residents have tested positive for the virus, with just 33 recoveries to date.

All residents at the facility have received a test. Strang said they continue to go through and test residents who initially tested negative and may have been exposed to the virus.

“The fact that we’re seeing a significant reduction in the number of positive residents in the last few days is encouraging,” Strang said.

READ MORE: At 100, ‘super nanny Kay’ Murphy beats COVID-19 at Halifax care home

Strang added that it’s going to take some time before the outbreak can be considered to be winding down.

“It’s just a fact of the large number of people in that facility that have been infected,” he said, “and we continue to have significant numbers, requiring substantive support for their health needs.”

Discrepancy in active cases

There are currently 108 active cases of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia. In Tuesday’s update, Strang said there are 157 active cases among residents at Northwood Manor alone.

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Strang addressed the discrepancy by highlighting that the province’s long-term care data comes from a different data source and is on a different timeline than the public health source.

“We are working hard between long-term care and public health to make sure the two data systems become more consistent and resolve this issue,” he said.

Strang added that if people are looking for the “source of truth,” they should lean on the numbers provided by the province.

Schools to reopen for students to retrieve items

The province announced on Friday that schools will remain closed for the remainder of the academic year, with the school year ending on June 5.

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus outbreak: N.S. announces students won’t return to class ‘this school year’ but aims to open daycares early June'
Coronavirus outbreak: N.S. announces students won’t return to class ‘this school year’ but aims to open daycares early June

Strang said beginning the week of May 25, single students or family members will be able to access their school by appointment.

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“Staff in my office are giving public health advice to the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development around this process to ensure that can be done safely,” he said.

The schools will be in touch with parents and students in the near future to explain how they can make an appointment.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

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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For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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