Nova Scotia health officials report 2 new COVID-19 cases on Friday and say 41 cases remain active in the province.
One of the new cases is in the northern zone and is related to travel outside of Atlantic Canada. The province says the other case is in the central zone and remains under investigation.
Nova Scotia Health completed 2,527 Nova Scotia tests on Thursday.
As of Thursday, 138,348 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered and 30,838 Nova Scotians have received their second dose.
Premier Iain Rankin said in Friday’s briefing that 96.2 per cent of healthcare workers have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
“Nova Scotia is a leader in this area, we are also a leader in long-term care vaccination,” he told reporters.
He says all long-term care residents will be vaccinated with both doses by the end of April. Private facilities will have their first dose by the end of April, and second dose in May.
According to Rankin, the province is on track to administer 40,000 doses this week.
“Next we’ll administer 50,000 doses,” he said.
Rankin said there are still several openings available next week, so the province is now opening appointments for those 65 and older to receive Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.
“Given the number of people in this age group, it is likely we won’t be able to drop down the age cohort in the next few weeks,” said Rankin. “We’ll monitor uptake and go from there.”
As of this week, Mi’kmaq elders who live in the 13 communities have received both doses of COVID-19 vaccine.
Rankin said on April 23-24, the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre in Halifax will be offering the vaccine to urban Indigenous elders over the age of 55 and knowledge keepers who live in the area.
“Planning is also underway for the next phase of vaccine rollout in First Nations communities,” he said.
The next phase will begin with elders over the age of 55 who live outside of the 13 communities and then expand to all Mi’kmaq over the age of 16.
Chief medical officer of health Dr. Robert Strang says border control remains important in Nova Scotia. This, as the province has opened its borders to the rest of Atlantic Canada.
“Since the majority of our cases are related to travel from outside of Atlantic Canada, we’ve added another layer of protection,” said Strang.
Nova Scotia is strongly encouraging testing for travelers who still have to quarantine for 14 days.
Those who are exempt from quarantine, such as truck drivers or airline crew, are asked to get tested three times when they return to the province. They are also expected to fill in the Safe Check-In form and follow a strict low-contact procedure in their first 14 days back.
As for vaccines, Strang said Public Health is doing what it can to keep things equitable across the province.
He said the vaccination plan is subject to change based on supply and developing science.
As of Friday, Phase 2 of Nova Scotia’s vaccination plan is changing again. The plan will now follow age-based estimates, as opposed to priority groups previously outlined.
“Originally, rotational workers, long-haul truckers and employees who work in large food processing plants were going to be vaccinated in May and June,” said Strang.
“Now they’ll be able to get their first dose much more quickly and conveniently as a part of their age group.”
Strang says Nova Scotia’s approach is about balance and the province is in a good place.
“We are lifting restrictions in a few places while others are significantly locking down in parts of the country.”
He said while the province is allowing modest changes to ease restrictions, border controls and gathering limits remain important.
Rankin, when asked about the loosened measures, said Public Health had informed him Nova Scotians can travel without having to quarantine upon returning safely.
“I didn’t feel that it was appropriate to put a further burden on Nova Scotians, making them self-isolate, when there was no science to back that up,” said Rankin.
He said he will continue to make decisions based on Public Health advice.