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Nova Scotia to set up cold storage sites for COVID-19 vaccine in four areas across the province –



Nova Scotians outside the central health zone are one step closer to getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

In a news release Monday, the Department of Health and Wellness announced it was setting up vaccine storage sites in four areas across the province:

  • Cape Breton Regional Hospital
  • Colchester East Hants Health Centre
  • Valley Regional Hospital
  • Yarmouth Regional Hospital.

The storage sites are required to keep the vaccine at the appropriate temperature specified by the manufacturer. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the only one approved by Health Canada so far, must be stored between -80°C and -60°C. 

Currently, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is stored at Dalhousie University and a vaccination clinic has been set up on campus for front-line health-care workers and long-term care staff in the central zone. The strict storage and handling guidelines for the vaccine means that vaccination clinics can only be set up where ultra-low temperature freezers are available.

Strang said the province acquired large freezers for storage and small ones for transportation. He added that the province got one of the freezers from the federal government.

Cape Breton Regional Hospital and Valley Regional Hospital, which is located in Kentville, will get the storage sites during the week of Jan. 4, with each site will receiving 1,950 vaccine doses. 

Strang said he’s not sure when the other two storage sites will be ready. Details of the immunization clinics are also still being worked out.

So far, 1463 people in Nova Scotia have received their first shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

“We’re expecting our first shipment of the Moderna vaccine soon. As soon as Health Canada approves it,” said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, at Monday’s live COVID-19 update.

Strang said vaccination is moving ahead of schedule, with all eligible health-care workers in the central zone having had received their first dose. As vaccination moves to the general public later next year, Strang said the province will be prioritizing people based on age, health condition, and “vulnerability in communities based on socioeconomic factors.”

An 11-member vaccine expert panel with representation from the Department of Health and Wellness, Nova Scotia Health Authority, IWK Health Centre and the Canadian Center for Vaccinology has been established to monitor the use of vaccine in Nova Scotia. Strang said the panel won’t be deciding who has the priority to get the vaccine.

Nova Scotia will receive another shipment of 3,900 doses Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine this week.

Premier Stephen McNeil and Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health, at the live COVID-19 briefing on Monday, Dec. 21. Strang said the province is expecting more Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine doses this week. - Communications Nova Scotia
Premier Stephen McNeil and Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, at the live COVID-19 briefing on Monday, Dec. 21. Strang said the province is expecting more Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine doses this week. – Communications Nova Scotia

Two new cases

Nova Scotia is reporting two more COVID-19 cases as the number of active cases in the province continues to decline.

One case is in the province’s central health zone, and the other case is in the western zone. Both cases are related to previously reported cases. There are now 38 active cases in the province. It’s been two weeks since the number of new cases reported in one day was over 10. Strang said he’s grateful to Nova Scotians for following the public health protocols.

“Today’s numbers and the trends we are seeing are a direct result of your hard work,” he said.

On Friday, Eskasoni First Nation reported its first case of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. Premier Stephen McNeil said a pop-up testing site will be set up at Eskasoni First Nation today, Monday, and Tuesday for anyone who’d like to get tested.

Clarification on restrictions

Starting Monday, new restrictions have come into place across Nova Scotia. They include the reopening of fitness facilities and resuming of faith-based activities in the Halifax Regional Municipality and Hants County. But restaurants, licensed establishments and the Halifax casino will remain closed until Jan. 10.

Across the province, retail stores and malls are only allowed to open at 25 per cent of their legal capacity as of Monday. The gathering limit is 10, including the people in a household.

“It doesn’t matter how old or young or your relationship, the limit is 10,” said Strang.

A close group of 10 can go out in public to attend faith gatherings or walk in a park without physical distancing. The group should be consistent. 

Business meetings and training has a limit of 25 people with physical distancing and masks. Community events, such as suppers and parties, are not allowed. 

While there are no specific instructions to avoid travel in and out of the Halifax Regional Municipality and Hants County, unnecessary travel continues to be discouraged during the holidays. 

“If you do need to travel in the province, you need to go from point A to point B, without making unnecessary stops along the way,” said Strang.

People in long-term care are allowed an additional designated care-giver and family visitors. It’s up to individual long-term care facilities to decide how they’ll apply the restrictions, said Strang. 

People can find the complete list of restrictions at

Nova Scotia Health Authority’s labs completed 1,389 Nova Scotia tests on Dec. 20.

Since Oct. 1, Nova Scotia has completed close to 100,000 tests. There have been 358 positive COVID-19 cases and no deaths. No one is currently in hospital.


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Canadian home sales see a record December — and a record 2020 –



National home sales set an all-time record in December, the Canadian Real Estate Association reported Friday.

Sales were up 47.2 per cent compared to December 2019, the largest year-over-year increase in monthly sales in 11 years.

The spike in sales from November to December, 7.2 per cent, was driven by gains of more than 20 per cent in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and Greater Vancouver.

It was a new record for the month of December by a margin of more than 12,000 transactions.

For the sixth straight month, sales activity was up in almost all Canadian housing markets compared to the same month in 2019.

It was also a record for the entire year.

Average home price up 17%

Almost 552,000 homes traded hands over Canadian MLS systems — a new annual record. It was an increase of 12.6 per cent from 2019 and 2.3 per cent more than the previous record year, 2016. 

The actual national average home price was a record $607,280 in December, up 17.1 per cent from the final month of 2019.

The CREA said that excluding Greater Vancouver and the Greater Toronto Area, two of the most active and expensive markets, lowers the national average price by almost $130,000.

This chart by the Canadian Real Estate Association shows the dip in sales as the pandemic began and the subsequent rebound. (Canadian Real Estate Association)

Many of the areas with the biggest price gains last month were in Ontario, including Belleville, Simcoe, Ingersoll, Woodstock and the Lakelands region, where prices were up more than 30 per cent from December 2019.

Areas with more modest price growth included Calgary and Edmonton, where prices rose 1.5 per cent and 2.7 per cent, respectively.

TD expects sales and prices to cool

“What a fitting end to a surprisingly strong year,” TD Bank economist Rishi Sondhi said in a note to clients. “Relative strength in high-wage employment, record low mortgage rates, rising supply of homes available for purchase and solid demand for larger units all supported exceptional sales and price growth last year.

“Looking ahead, we’re expecting sales and prices to cool somewhat from their robust pace in the first quarter. However, December’s surprisingly strong performance makes hitting our forecast a tougher proposition.”

Shaun Cathcart, CREA’s senior economist, said in a statement that Canada faces a “major supply problem” in 2021.

“On New Year’s Day there were fewer than 100,000 residential listings on all Canadian MLS systems, the lowest ever based on records going back three decades,” he said.

“Compare that to five years ago, when there was a quarter of a million listings available for sale. So we have record-high demand and record-low supply to start the year. How that plays out in the sales and price data will depend on how many homes become available to buy in the months ahead.”

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Quebec confirms it will delay second vaccine dose for CHSLD residents and staff – Montreal Gazette



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On Feb. 15, Quebec will begin vaccinating seniors ages 80 and over who live at home.

Health officials told the Montreal Gazette this week that they aren’t ready to release details about the next phase of vaccination plan.

Public health authorities say they’re closely monitoring seniors in CHSLDs who have received the first dose to make sure it’s still effective weeks later, said Richard Massé, a public health epidemiologist.

Massé defended Quebec’s decision to ignore a recommendation by the National Advisory Committee on Vaccination, which said if provinces delay administering the second dose due to logistical or epidemiological reasons, it should be given with 42 days of the first dose.

On Thursday, Canada’s Council of Chief Medical Officers of Health, which includes the Chief Medical Officer of Health from each province and territory, also weighed in on Quebec’s plan, saying if the second dose is extended beyond 42 days, “the impact on people vaccinated must be closely monitored.”

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Wife of Nunavut man who died from COVID-19 pleads with people to get vaccinated – CTV News



The wife of a Nunavut man who died from COVID-19 after contracting it in his community is urging the territory’s residents to get vaccinated.

Diane Sammurtok’s husband Luki died in December after being flown from his home in Arviat to a southern hospital.

Sammurtok called in to Arviat’s local radio station and pleaded with people to get the vaccine.

A recording of the call was played at a news conference today and broadcast over radio and television.

Speaking through tears and sobs, Sammurtok said she doesn’t want anyone to go through what she did.

Premier Joe Savikataaq, who is from Arviat, had tears in his eyes as he listened and his voice shook as he addressed the media.

Savikataaq urged people to stop spreading misinformation about the vaccine and said he will get it when it’s his turn.

Vaccination clinics are underway in four Nunavut communities this week and are tol roll out in four more next week.

There are no active cases of COVID-19 in Nunavut.

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