Nova Scotia reports 4 new cases of COVID-19, vaccine rollout continues to expand

Click to play video: 'N.S. releases new report on its COVID-19 vaccination plan'
N.S. releases new report on its COVID-19 vaccination plan
WATCH: A new report says Nova Scotia is on track to distribute more than 33,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine by April. But this comes as Pfizer says it will defer delivery of the next batch of its vaccine to Canada by a week. And as Graeme Benjamin reports, the impact of that still isn’t clear – Jan 19, 2021

Nova Scotia reported four new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday and said the vaccine rollout continues to expand this week with clinics at two more long-term care facilities and another regional hospital.

According to Public Health, one of the new cases is in Northern Zone and is a close contact of a previously reported case. The other three cases are in Central Zone and are related to travel outside Atlantic Canada.

Public health officials said the people are self-isolating, as required. One of the cases is a student who virtually attends two Nova Scotia universities. The student lives off-campus.

READ MORE: Nova Scotia education minister under pressure to release school ventilation test results

The province said that as of Jan. 18, 8,520 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered. Of those, 2,215 Nova Scotians have received their second dose.

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Health officials also announced that additional vaccine storage locations and new community clinics will take place.

“We know that Nova Scotians are eager to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and our health-care system is working as quickly as possible to make that happen,” said Premier Stephen McNeil.

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“In an effort to vaccinate those at highest risk, and those who are critical to the health-care response in our province, we will target our efforts where they will have the greatest impact until our vaccine supply increases,” he added.

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New clinic locations this week include Colchester-East Hants Health Centre, and two long-term care facilities: Northside Community Guest Home in North Sydney and Harbourstone Enhanced Care in Sydney.

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Over the next three months, the province said it will focus on delivery to health-care workers directly involved in the COVID-19 response, as well as staff, residents and designated caregivers in long-term care and residential care facilities.

It will also launch prototype clinics to help prepare the province to deliver and administer large quantities of vaccine as supply increases. Those include community clinics for those aged 80 and over and clinics in First Nations and African Nova Scotian communities delivered by physicians and pharmacists.

READ MORE: Prince Edward Island looking to ease restrictions amid low COVID-19 infection rate

“Our immunization plan has been strategic and flexible from the start and it will continue to evolve as more information about the vaccines, our supply and best practices becomes available,” said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health. “Age will be the main way we prioritize community immunization, because we know the impact COVID-19 has on older people.”

Over the next 30 days, the province said it will:

  • Establish three new cold storage sites in Antigonish, Amherst and Bridgewater (by the end of January). They will have the equipment needed to store all types of COVID-19 vaccine. This will bring the total cold storage sites to nine
  • Open three new health-care worker clinics at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax, Yarmouth Regional Hospital and St. Martha’s Regional Hospital in Antigonish. This will be in addition to the four clinics currently operating
  • Use Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to open more clinics in long-term care facilities, regional rehabilitation centres and adult residential centres.

Over the next 60 to 90 days, the province said it will:

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  • Open health-care worker clinics in Amherst and Bridgewater
  • Launch prototype clinics for seniors who are 80 and older in Halifax and Truro. These seniors will receive a letter from MSI on how to schedule their appointment
  • Launch prototype clinics for First Nations and in African Nova Scotian communities
  • Set up mass immunization clinics in all communities with cold storage sites
  • Expand health-care worker clinics beyond those most closely involved in COVID-19 response, for example: primary care physicians, pharmacists, home care workers.

The province said it has also engaged Doctors Nova Scotia and the Pharmacy Association of Nova Scotia on how their members can support vaccine delivery in the community, so Nova Scotians can be vaccinated quickly and safely.

Prototype clinics could also include pharmacies and doctor’s offices, the province noted.

Since Oct. 1, Nova Scotia said it has completed 144,318 tests. There have been 472 positive COVID-19 cases and no deaths.

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No one is currently in hospital. Four hundred and fifty cases are now resolved and 22 active cases remain in the province.

The province encourages post-secondary students returning to Nova Scotia from anywhere except Prince Edward Island or Newfoundland and Labrador to book a COVID-19 test for day six, seven or eight of their 14-day self-isolation period.

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COVID-19 testing appointments can be booked up to three days in advance.

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