Nova Scotia reports 1 new COVID-19 case, mandatory testing for rotational workers

Click to play video 'Healthcare restrictions to tighten for rotational workers' Healthcare restrictions to tighten for rotational workers
WATCH: As COVID-19 cases in other provinces like Alberta continue to climb, healthcare restrictions in Nova Scotia will tighten for rotational workers who travel outside the Atlantic provinces for work. Jesse Thomas has more – Jan 12, 2021

Nova Scotia health officials reported one new case of the coronavirus on Tuesday.

The case is an individual in the central zone who is a close contact of previously reported cases. Public Health says there are 27 active cases of COVID-19 in the province.

Read more: Nova Scotia reporting 5 new cases of COVID-19, including 2 university students

Update for rotational workers

Nova Scotia announced on Tuesday it is introducing mandatory testing for rotational workers coming into the province.

Chief medical officer of health Dr. Robert Strang said the province is concerned about high numbers of COVID-19 cases in provinces like Alberta, where many Nova Scotians work.

Strang said in the Tuesday briefing that only about a third of rotational workers are getting tested as the province started offering voluntary testing last month.

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Effective Friday, it will be mandatory for all rotational workers to get tested on the first day they arrive to Nova Scotia, and a second test between days five and seven.

Public Health said audits will be done and if they do not get their test, rotational workers will be phoned as a reminder to get the second test. If they fail to get a second test, they will be fined $1,000.

“We fully understand that the pandemic has been particularly hard on these rotational workers and their families, but we also know there have been cases among rotational workers and they continue to have a significant risk of importing the virus into Nova Scotia,” Strang said.

Click to play video 'Coronavirus: N.S. reports 1 new COVID-19 case, makes testing mandatory for rotational workers' Coronavirus: N.S. reports 1 new COVID-19 case, makes testing mandatory for rotational workers
Coronavirus: N.S. reports 1 new COVID-19 case, makes testing mandatory for rotational workers – Jan 12, 2021

Since the start of December, 21 cases of COVID-19, or 9.4 per cent, have been reported to be rotational workers. Strang said rotational workers now must get tested and must complete their modified 14-day isolation period even with negative results.

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To get tested, rotational workers must book appointments through the online self-assessment form and cannot visit walk-in sites.

Strang also said in the briefing that testing has been introduced to correctional facilities, with every person being tested upon admission and on-going voluntary testing for staff available.

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Public Health reminded Nova Scotians of the importance of getting tested with or without symptoms of COVID-19.

“This is most important for people who have a lot of interaction with others because of their job or their social activity,” Strang said.

Routine travel to New Brunswick

With COVID-19 cases on the rise in the neighbouring province, Nova Scotia announced last week that all travelers from New Brunswick into Nova Scotia will now have to isolate for two weeks upon arrival.

However, Strang said on Tuesday there are exceptions to this measure, including those who may live in one province and work in the other.

“Healthy people who need to routinely travel back and forth over the land border with New Brunswick for work, or school, do not need to self-isolate when they come to Nova Scotia,” Strang said.

Read more: Nova Scotia Health issues potential COVID-19 exposure warnings for 2 locations in Truro

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These individuals do not need to complete the N.S. Safe Check-in form upon arrival either.

Strang said routine travelers will get a chit from border staff to display on their windshield, so they don’t have to stop at the border check-in every time they cross. Chits will be handed out by border staff the first time an individual explains their travel situation to the staff.

Students who are coming from N.B. for the full semester still have to isolate.

Two of the cases reported on Monday involve post-secondary students returning from the holidays. One in the central zone is a student at Dalhousie University who lives off of the Halifax-based campus. The second student is at Acadia University in Wolfville. That individual lives on campus and is self-isolating.

Click to play video 'N.B. students returning to Nova Scotia facing COVID-19 isolation period' N.B. students returning to Nova Scotia facing COVID-19 isolation period
N.B. students returning to Nova Scotia facing COVID-19 isolation period – Jan 11, 2021

Travel has to be routine and ongoing, Strang said. Occasional business meetings do not count, but an exception is made for those who must travel for essential medical treatment. All other travelers will have to check-in and isolate.

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“We recognize the challenges but we have to have the 14 days (of isolation),” he said.

Vaccine rollout continues

This week has seen the expansion of Nova Scotia’s COVID-19 vaccination program to areas outside of Halifax and long-term care residents. Health-care workers in Cape Breton and long-term care residents at Northwood Halifax received doses of COVID-19 vaccines on Monday.

“We all know how hard Northwood was hit in wave one of the pandemic,” Strang said in the Tuesday briefing, adding he is glad to rollout the first out-of-hospital immunization clinic at that facility.

Click to play video 'Northwood Halifax residents, Sydney hospital staff get first dose of COVID-19 vaccine' Northwood Halifax residents, Sydney hospital staff get first dose of COVID-19 vaccine
Northwood Halifax residents, Sydney hospital staff get first dose of COVID-19 vaccine – Jan 11, 2021

Tuesday saw Robin MacLean become the first health-care worker to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in the province’s western zone during a vaccination clinic at the Valley Regional Hospital.

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As of Jan. 9, the province said 3,831 doses of the vaccine have been administered and 1,076 Nova Scotians have received both doses.

Strang warned that as the province rolls out the immunization program, Nova Scotians must remain vigilant.

“Most of the rest of Canada is in the middle of an intense second wave, with substantial health impacts and requiring far stricter restrictions than we have in Nova Scotia,” Strang said Tuesday.

Ontario, for example, imposed a stay-at-home order on Tuesday as the province reported more than 3,000 new cases of COVID-19.

Read more: Additional paid sick leave, eviction ban left out of Ontario’s latest coronavirus restrictions

To date, Nova Scotia has received 13,450 doses of vaccine, including both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.

This week, Nova Scotia Public Health is expecting another two shipments with 5,850 Pfizer vaccine doses and 3,700 Moderna vaccine doses. The province said it is reserving half of every vaccine shipment to ensure second doses are available for each person vaccinated.

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Click to play video 'Nova Scotia sees success with fighting COVID-19' Nova Scotia sees success with fighting COVID-19
Nova Scotia sees success with fighting COVID-19 – Jan 12, 2021

— With files from Alexander Quon.