Nova Scotia announced this week that it would delay entering Phase 5 of its reopening plan until Oct. 4 following a spike in new COVID-19 cases. That date coincides with the province’s proof-of-vaccination policy coming into effect.
Matt Galloway of CBC Radio’s The Current spoke to Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, about the province’s decision to delay reopening and how he expects people to react to changes in restrictions.
This discussion has been edited for length and clarity.
How would you describe the mood in this province right now when it comes to the pandemic?
I think in general, people are understanding that we’ve worked really hard and we’re in a relatively good place. But also just in this last week, things are shifting in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick and P.E.I.
I think people are feeling comfortable with what we’ve done and are willing to follow along with it because they know that’s worked.
The Current19:05Dr. Robert Strang on why Nova Scotia is putting its reopening plan on hold
Tell me a little bit about that decision-making.There was a lot of excitement that essentially all of the pandemic restrictions would be lifted. What is that actually going to look like in the days and weeks ahead, given the fourth wave that’s around us now?
We know it’s vaccine plus epidemiology, and things are evolving quickly and now in the Maritime provinces. We’re going to slow down and Oct. 4 is when we’re bringing in our proof-of-vaccination policy.
So when we do bring more people together, it’s vaccinated people.
So how do you think people are going to respond to that?
I’ve been getting a lot of correspondence in the last two or three days. People saying, ‘Please slow down.’
I think most people will understand that they’ll be disappointed. But I think most people will see the reason why we need to do this, and we’re really saying it’s for the next 2½ weeks.
What are you seeing around the province and in neighbouring jurisdictions that has led you to slow things down?
It’s really because what we’re seeing now, is the pandemic of the unvaccinated. We have really good vaccination rates, but we’ve got about 10 per cent of our population that is not vaccinated.
We’re almost 80 per cent of our full population with one dose and getting to 75 [per cent] with two doses. But I think we’re going to end up with 10 per cent of adults who could get vaccinated, but aren’t. And even that is enough to spark significant spread and outbreaks, and we’re seeing that in other provinces with lower vaccination rates.
In Nova Scotia, like others, especially smaller provinces, our health system is already pushed to capacity. So we have very little ability to absorb any significant number of hospitalizations due to COVID.
We’ve seen with the return to school, for example on P.E.I., a number of schools shut down, kids sent home. How worried are you about that manifesting here in Nova Scotia?
We’ve got a big outbreak in a confined community in northern Nova Scotia, but we’re seeing some early signs of some community spread, mostly in younger adults unvaccinated in the Halifax area. But that has the risk of spilling into other populations, spilling into the under 12s, especially who are in schools.
Is the reopening of schools putting what you have accomplished in jeopardy?
Schools have not shown themselves to be a major source of transmission within schools.
I always say our schools are safe when our community’s safe, so it’s really a plea to say, let’s do what we need to do to keep our community safe for a number of reasons. But one of those key ones is for our children and youth. The best place for most of them to learn is in school.
You have said this new normal is going to be learning to live with COVID. What does that mean?
Ultimately, we need to be at a place where we can tolerate circulation of the virus like we do with something like influenza.
I keep saying to people that if we should all continue to wear masks in indoor places, especially during the winter months when we’re around other people, whether they’re mandated or not, that keeps us all more healthy.
This province has been the envy of many jurisdictions across the country. What do you think you got right over the course of the pandemic?
Certainly we have some geographic and demographic advantages. We don’t have great, big … dense cities.
We used border measures very early on knowing we needed to slow the virus down.
We’ve also learnt that through these first and second waves especially, and now we’re seeing it from even the third wave, that the economy and public health are actually not in opposition. The phrase we use is, ‘Good public health is good economics,’ because you minimize the time that you need tight restrictions and come out as early as possible.
What goes through your mind when you see what’s happening in other jurisdictions where people are protesting?
What people are taking around this is a very self-centred, me-focused approach, not appreciating at all about the implications of what they’re doing and how it plays out in a very negative way in others’ lives.
It’s both disturbing and also disappointing.
Do you worry that mandatory vaccination requirement could exacerbate those tensions, could exacerbate those divisions?
It already is.
I am concerned about the division becoming worse and I’ll do whatever I can to try to speak a more caring, compassionate approach into that space.
Do you worry that your own health-care workers could be attacked? We’re seeing this in other jurisdictions.
It actually makes my blood boil that particular point targeting health-care workers. It is just not OK.
I saw people protesting at our pediatric hospital. There are sick kids going in there and it really disturbs me that some people in our society are OK with taking that kind of action.
It’s been a busy 18 months. What’s one thing that you have learned over the course of this pandemic?
I’ve learnt the resilience and dedication of my colleagues in health care.
I’ve experienced and heard of so many stories about kindness and compassion, those are my three Cs: caring, community and common sense.
I’ve really pushed at how people have responded in so many positive ways about looking out for each other as we get through the difficult time in the pandemic, and that will stay with me.
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Bank of England will have to act to contain inflation – Bailey
“Monetary policy cannot solve supply side problems but it will have to act and must do so if we see a risk particularly to medium-term inflation and to medium-term inflation expectations,” Bailey said on Sunday.
“And that’s why we at the Bank of England have signalled, and this is another such signal, that we will have to act,” he said during a panel discussion organised by the Group of 30 consultative group. “But of course that action comes in our monetary policy meetings.”
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UPDATE: U.S. expected to reopen border November 8, mixed doses eligible – BlackburnNews.com
UPDATE: U.S. expected to reopen border November 8, mixed doses eligible
October 15, 2021 7:25pm
There is word the U.S. will allow fully vaccinated Canadians with mixed doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to enter when the land border reopens to travellers next month.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said early Friday evening that individuals who received doses of two or more different COVID-19 vaccines, including the Astra Zeneca vaccine, will be considered eligible to enter the United States starting in November.
“While CDC has not recommended mixing types of vaccine in a primary series, we recognize that this is increasingly common in other countries so should be accepted for the interpretation of vaccine records,” a statement from the agency read.
Earlier on Friday, a White House official told the Canadian Press on condition of anonymity, since the policy has not yet been made public, that the official reopening date for land borders will be November 8.
However, New York State Congressman Brian Higgins tweeted the date too.
The White House is indicating the U.S. will start allowing vaccinated Canadians to enter the U.S. through land ports of entry beginning on November 8. pic.twitter.com/dlWWZsL1wU
— Brian Higgins (@RepBrianHiggins) October 15, 2021
The Canada Border Services Agency also reminded Canadians what they would need to re-enter the country once land and water border points do open.
Travellers re-entering Canada will have to complete a PCR test within 72 hours of arriving at the border. They will also have to provide proof they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 using the ArriveCan app.
“Antigen tests, often called ‘rapid tests,’ are not accepted,” said the CBSA statement.
For trips of less than 72 hours, Canadians and those registered under the Indian Act, permanent residents and protected persons can take their PCR test before they leave the country.
“Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated travellers who are eligible to enter Canada must continue to follow pre-arrival, arrival, and Day-8 molecular COVID-19 testing requirements, and quarantine for 14 days,” continued the statement.
Canada reopened its border to American travellers on August 9.
Travelling with kids under 12? What to know about the latest COVID-19 rules – Globalnews.ca
Canadians hoping to travel internationally for the holidays have much to celebrate.
A White House official told Global News on Friday that fully vaccinated Canadians will be able to travel to the U.S. by land or sea for non-essential trips starting Nov. 8. Later in the day, came the news that Canadians with mixed vaccines will also be able to cross the border.
And Canada lifted its quarantine requirement for vaccinated travellers entering the country by land and air back in July.
But one large group of vaccinated adults who may still have to shelve any plans for cross-border holiday trips: those with children under the age of 12 who cannot get the coronavirus vaccine yet.
While international travel with young children is possible, it remains riskier and more complicated. Here’s what to know.
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Re-entering Canada with kids under 12
Children under 12 who are travelling with fully vaccinated parents, step-parents, guardians or tutors don’t need to quarantine upon re-entering Canada but won’t be able to go back to their routines right away, either. That’s because they won’t be allowed to attend school, daycare or camp for 14 days after their return, according to guidelines posted on the website of the government of Canada.
The kids may also need to postpone seeing their grandparents for a while. Unvaccinated children returning from a trip abroad must avoid contact with people 65 years of age or older, as well as with those who have a compromised immune system or underlying medical condition that makes them more susceptible to complications from COVID-19.
Families must also ensure the children aren’t travelling on crowded public transport or attending crowded settings like amusement parks or sporting events.
Still, the kids won’t stay locked up in the house for two full weeks. They’re still allowed to go to the park, to head out for a walk, or to accompany their parents on errands to the grocery store or pharmacy, provided they avoid crowds, wear masks at all times, and maintain physical distancing.
There are also testing requirements. For unvaccinated children aged five and older, families have to provide negative COVID-19 results from tests taken right before entry, upon arrival, and eight days after coming back. As for adults, these must be molecular not rapid antigen tests.
Children under the age of five are exempt from the testing requirement, but parents should still include them as travellers in their submissions through the ArriveCAN app, which enables travellers to upload their trip details, test results and quarantine plans, if applicable. Use of the app has become mandatory for virtually anyone entering Canada by air, land or marine vessel.
In addition to the federal directives, parents should also check for any additional public health requirements in their local jurisdiction.
Children under the age of 12 travelling with unvaccinated adults must quarantine upon entering Canada.
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Travelling to the U.S.
Starting on Nov. 8, children under 12 will also be allowed into the U.S., provided they’re travelling with someone who satisfies U.S. vaccination requirements.
Canadians who have received two shots of the Moderna, Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccines will be able to enter the U.S. U.S. authorities have also said the U.S. will accept international travellers vaccinated with mixed doses of any FDA or WHO-approved COVID-19 vaccines, which include Moderna, Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccines.
There will be no need for a COVID-19 test to enter the U.S. by land or sea for vaccinated visitors. However, proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within three calendar days of travel is still required to board a flight to the U.S. for all passengers except children under the age of two.
As U.S. reopens border, calls for Canada to end COVID-19 test requirement
Regardless of entry requirements, travelling abroad with children who aren’t vaccinated remains “risky,” even if parents have received their two shots, says Anna Banerji, associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health.
“There’s the risk of (unvaccinated children) getting sick or potentially spreading it,” she says.
The risk varies based on your destination, local rate of COVID-19 cases and vaccinations, as well as public health measures in place, she says. Some U.S. states, she notes, still have three times the average number of cases per population than Canada has.
“In many parts of the States, COVID is not under control,” she says.
Even if you’re flying to a destination with low rates of COVID-19 and stringent rules to contain the contagion, you’ll still be on an airplane for hours, potentially with people from all over the world, Banerji cautions.
The safer choice is to wait until young children have also had their full dose of vaccine, she says.
Earlier this month, Pfizer was the first vaccine maker to ask the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to authorize emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine in children aged five to 11.
Pfizer has submitted its initial trial data to Health Canada and plans to make a formal submission by mid-October, a spokesperson previously told Global News. As of Friday, Pfizer had not made the submission to the regulator.
Banerji says she’s hopeful children aged five to 11 will be vaccinated within the next two to three months.
— with files from Global News national reporter Aaron D’Andrea
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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