HALIFAX — The Nova Scotia government is moving ahead with plans to further reopen the province now that it hasn’t reported a case of COVID-19 in the past 17 days.
However, Premier Stephen McNeil warned Friday that with limits being raised on how many people can gather at bars, restaurants and organized events, the risk of a resurgence in infections was also increasing.
As a result, the province has issued an emphatic recommendation for residents to wear non-medical masks when physical distancing among strangers becomes difficult.
McNeil said Nova Scotians must get in the habit of wearing a mask, noting that he has had to change his own habits.
“Even when I saw others wearing them, I didn’t always where one myself,” he told a virtual news conference.
“I’ve had to rethink this and do a bit of soul-searching. After all, when someone is wearing a mask, they are protecting me and others. So I need to do the same for them.”
The premier then offered a slogan of sorts to promote the use of masks.
“Don’t think of it as a task. When in doubt, wear a mask.”
The province’s previous advice was to ask residents to “consider” wearing a mask when physical distancing couldn’t be maintained.
But the province’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Robert Strang, said he wants to “normalize” the wearing of masks to reduce the inherent risks that come with allowing larger gatherings.
As examples, Strang said masks should be worn when entering grocery stores or malls, using public transit or at public gatherings with limited space.
“Wearing a mask is a way of showing that we care about other people,” he said.
Meanwhile, the province announced Friday that all bars and restaurants will be allowed to operate at full capacity and continue serving until midnight, effective immediately.
However, that change assumes establishments will continue to adhere to physical distancing rules, which has required bars and restaurants to create more space for patrons by moving chairs and tables farther apart.
The province is also allowing private campgrounds to operate at 100 per cent capacity, and all public pools can reopen with physical distancing for lane swimming and aquafit classes.
As of next Friday, Nova Scotia will increase the limits on gatherings organized by recognized business or community organizations.
That includes weddings, funerals, cultural events, concerts, festivals, dance recitals and faith-based gatherings, which will increase to 250 people if they are outdoors and 200 — with maximum 50 per cent capacity — if they are indoors. In either case, physical distancing is still required.
These events do not include family gatherings, which remain limited to a 50-person maximum with physical distancing.
Last week, the province announced that Nova Scotians could start gathering in close social groups of up to 10 without physical distancing.
Though the province announced these groups did not have to be exclusive, Strang said Friday there seemed to be confusion over what that actually meant.
“We’re telling people that you can chose who is in your group of 10, but this is limited,” he said, adding that it was wrong to think any random gathering of 10 people was acceptable. “Ideally, people would have a single, closed social group.”
A total of 1,061 people in Nova Scotia have tested positive for the virus — and 63 of those people have died, most of them in a long-term care facility in Halifax. Two people remain in hospital, though their cases are considered among the 998 officially resolved cases.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 26, 2020.
Michael MacDonald, The Canadian Press
Four straight days of no new COVID-19 cases in Manitoba – CTV News Winnipeg
For the fourth straight day, there are no new cases of COVID-19 in Manitoba.
Health officials announced on Saturday that as of 9:30 a.m., no new cases have been identified.
There have been 325 lab-confirmed and probable cases in the province since early March.
As of Friday, there are 16 active cases in Manitoba and 302 people have recovered from COVID-19. The death toll remains at seven.
Since early February, 64,968 tests have been performed.
The province will provide an update data on case numbers, active cases and recoveries on Monday.
Why airlines won't contact you if a passenger with COVID-19 was on your flight – CTV News Winnipeg
The Manitoba government has explained why health officials are notifying airline passengers about possible COVID-19 exposure, and not the airlines themselves.
In recent days, the province has advised passengers on three Air Canada flights to self-isolate and monitor for symptoms, as a recent positive case was a passenger on the flights.
The flights are listed below:
- AC 295 from Winnipeg to Vancouver on June 19. Affected rows are 19-25.
- AC 122 from Vancouver to Toronto on June 21. Affected rows are 31-37.
- AC 259 from Toronto to Winnipeg on June 23. Affected rows are 24-30.
Health officials said those in the impacted rows are considered close contacts and are asked to self-isolate for 14 days and monitor for COVID-19 symptoms. Any other passengers on the flights are asked to monitor for symptoms.
Since the pandemic started, the provincial government has maintained a list of flights where passengers with confirmed cases of COVID-19 were on.
However, some have wondered why provincial health officials are providing the updates, instead of the airlines.
CTV News Winnipeg reached out to the Manitoba government for additional information on the process.
A provincial spokesperson said the plan to post information on flights publicly, instead of requesting flight manifests, was established early in the pandemic.
“There is no direct evidence at this time that contacting individual air travellers has made it possible to find cases earlier,” the spokesperson said in an email to CTV News. “All air travellers should be self-monitoring for symptoms post-travel.”
The spokesperson went on to add, “Flight manifests take time to retrieve and often do not have contact information for all travellers that allows public health to follow-up. Airlines do not contact air travellers about public health issues directly.”
The province said the process is consistent with national guidelines and said most jurisdictions in Canada will publicly post the flight information for COVID-19 cases.
There have been 325 cases of COVID-19 in Manitoba since March 12.
No new cases of COVID-19 in Manitoba for 4th straight day – CBC.ca
No new cases of COVID-19 were announced in Manitoba on Saturday, marking the fourth straight day since a case of the illness was identified in the province.
The total number of cases identified in Manitoba is still 325, the province said on Twitter.
Numbers on testing, recoveries and hospitalizations will be updated again on Monday.
As of Friday, 16 of the known cases in the province were still active and no one was in hospital with COVID-19.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, seven people who contracted the illness caused by the new coronavirus in Manitoba have died and 302 have recovered.
As of Friday, the total number of COVID-19 tests done in the province was 64,968.
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