Nova Scotia health officials are reporting nine new coronavirus cases on Friday.
All are located in the central zone.
A case first detected on Friday is a student at Bedford South School, Premier Stephen McNeil confirmed at a provincial COVID-19 update on Friday.
The individual was not in school Friday and is self-isolating, health officials say.
However, the school will remain closed until Dec. 2, in order for it to be cleaned.
Everyone in a class in which a confirmed case attended will be tested and is required to self-isolate for 14 days, Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, confirmed
Affected students will be transitioned to learning at home and public health officials are working to get in touch with close contacts.
As a result of the positive tests reported on Friday, there are now 118 active cases in Nova Scotia.
Rapid testing a model for other provinces
Strang asked for patience on Friday as the province’s health teams work to test large numbers of people, including individuals tested at the rapid testing pop-up locations offered this week.
He said that the rapid-testing pop-up site in downtown Halifax completed 1,142 of the 3,109 tests completed on Thursday.
Four individuals tested positive at the Clyde Street pop-up location and were advised to self-isolate and have been referred for a standard test.
Friday’s pop-up COVID-19 rapid testing site is located at the Alderney Gate Public Library in Dartmouth. It will be running from 1:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Strang stressed that rapid testing is less accurate than the normal tests used by the province but that it does allow them to process more people.
He said that provinces across Canada are looking closely at the model they’ve attempted to develop.
He thanked Dr. Lisa Barrett, an infectious disease expert at Dalhousie University, and Dr. Todd Hatchette who has taken charge of the rapid-testing sites.
The province’s top doctor said that Wolfville is likely to receive a pop-up rapid-testing site sometime next week. That decision comes after wastewater was tested and the presence of COVID-19 was detected.
Strang said that could be an indication that COVID-19 has spread outside of the HRM.
The provincial update also focused on the challenge health officials have faced in attempting to track and follow an increasingly large number of confirmed COVID-19 cases.
Less than a week ago Nova Scotia’s public health department had 276 open investigations, each of which had an average of five or six close contacts.
As of Friday, public health was dealing with 1,058 open investigations.
Each case they are diagnosing as positive has an average of seven close contacts although some have quite a few more, Strang said.
Testing coming to long-term care homes
Nova Scotia also launched a new voluntary testing scheme at the province’s long-term care homes on Friday.
Volunteers, designated caregivers and employees who provide direct care to residents will now be tested every two weeks.
The goal is to monitor, reduce and prevent the spread of the virus.
The ongoing testing has started at three long-term care centres: Northwood, Ocean View and St. Vincent’s and will expand to six more facilities over the next two weeks.
Essential travel only
The premier issued a warning to Nova Scotians — especially those in the central zone — that they should be mindful of what they do this weekend as the holiday season unofficially kicks off on Black Friday.
“We recommend you travel for only what is essential,” said McNeil. “Shopping is not an essential service.”
It was a message echoed by Strang.
“Wave two is clearly here in Halifax and we’re trying to keep it here in Halifax,” said Strang.
The province implemented new restrictions to the Halifax area this week.
On Thursday, New Brunswick joined P.E.I. and Newfoundland and Labrador in tightening border restrictions and taking a break from the Atlantic bubble.
Anyone entering New Brunswick, including Nova Scotians, will now have to self-isolate for 14 days.
Strang said on Friday that the province has not made the decision to implement more restrictions at this time, meaning that there is no need to self-isolate for 14 days if travellers are from other Atlantic provinces.
He stressed that travel should be for essential reasons only. That includes not only out-of-province travel but also trips into or out of the HRM.
McNeil said the province considers essential travel to be for medical appointments or things of that nature.
Nova Scotia has also renewed its state of emergency for another two-week period.
The renewed order will take effect at noon on Nov. 29, and extend to noon on Dec. 13, unless the province terminates or extends it.