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School-based COVID cases a 'wake up call' as community spread returns – HalifaxToday.ca

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The province’s chief medical officer says Nova Scotia needs to change its COVID-19 trajectory, and we all have a role to play.

Forty-two new cases have already been announced so far in November. October saw 21 new cases and there were just three in September. 

“We are starting to see community spread,” said Dr. Robert Strang at a Tuesday briefing. “Travel is not just the primary cause of all of the cases in the province now.”

Health officials haven’t been able to clearly identify the source of seven new cases.

“Therefore we have to conclude that this may be from local transmission,” he said. 

Two cases announced Monday afternoon are students in Halifax Regional Municipality schools. One attends Graham Creighton Junior High in Cherry Brook, the other goes to Auburn Drive High in Cole Harbour.

Public health officials have tracked down close contacts of the students, including classmates, teachers and fellow school bus passengers. They are all self-isolating.

Strang said the school-based cases are concerning but not unexpected, and officials have been preparing for this possibility for months.

“This is a wake-up call,” Premier Stephen McNeil stated. “COVID is not just entering two of our schools, it’s quickly creeping into a number of our neighbourhoods, particularly here in the central zone.”

“This is very concerning and tells me we are not taking COVID seriously.”

If cases continue to climb, Nova Scotians could see shutdowns return to the province, which has already happened in other parts of the country.

“I don’t want to do that, but I’m not going to watch COVID overtake the community,” the premier said.

Strang said discussions are already actively taking place on what restrictions could come back, if necessary.

“Every restriction we impose, every time we tighten down, has its own set of consequences … whether it’s employment or other things, so we need to do that thoughtfully,” the province’s top doctor said. “But we’re certainly fully prepared to go there.”

He believes we are still at a point where we could avoid that outcome and is pleading with Nova Scotians to be vigilant in washing hands, keeping six feet away from others, limiting our social circles and wearing masks.

“Make sure that the mask is effective and you’re wearing it properly,” Strang explained. 

“That means fully covering your nose and mouth and using either a two-layered or three-layered mask, not a face shield, not just a scarf or a thin gaiter that’s pulled up from around the neck. You need a proper non-medical mask.”

Strang said the 18 to 35 age group is currently driving many of the new cases in the province.

“This has not been a typical year and I know people are just trying to find a way to have a normal social life, but I’m going to appeal to young people directly,” he said. 

“You are important to Nova Scotia. You are our future, and we need you now to be leaders in taking a stand against COVID-19.”

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Nova Scotia’s Tree for Boston to be lit Thursday night – Global News

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Heather and Tony Sampson from Richmond County, donated this year’s 45-foot white spruce. The couple said the 2020 Tree for Boston is dedicated to those working on the frontlines during the COVID-19 pandemic. 


Nova Scotia’s Tree for Boston has arrived in the Boston Common and will be lit in a virtual ceremony on Thursday night.


Twitter / Nova Scotia Government

 Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said in the release that Thursday’s celebration will be a reminder of the importance of working together.“As Boston helped Nova Scotia in 1917, the city and our residents must partner to keep each other safe and healthy from the COVID-19 pandemic. I want to thank Nova Scotia for the Boston Common Christmas tree and I am grateful we are still able to celebrate the holiday season virtually,” Walsh said.


Click to play video 'From Nova Scotia with Love: Boston Brewery launches beer inspired by Tree for Boston'



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From Nova Scotia with Love: Boston Brewery launches beer inspired by Tree for Boston


From Nova Scotia with Love: Boston Brewery launches beer inspired by Tree for Boston
 Thursday night’s ceremony was livestreamed at 8 p.m. AST on WCVB Channel 5, according to the province.It featured performances by the Barra MacNeils, and Sarah and Elizabeth MacInnis with Jenny MacKenzie as part of the Celtic Colours International Festival. 

Nova Scotia’s Tree for Boston lit up at the Boston Common in a virtual ceremony Thursday night.


Nova Scotia’s Tree for Boston lit up at the Boston Common in a virtual ceremony Thursday night.

 The province says other performers in the one-hour-long ceremony included Nicholas Christopher, Maestro Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops Orchestra, the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus, and multiple Grammy Award winner Shaggy.

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'Operation Immunize'; BC's COVID-19 vaccinations to begin in January – CHEK

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During a press conference today from B.C.’s health officials, Dr. Bonnie Henry provided a little more insight into the province’s strategy for distributing a COVID-19 vaccine

Her vaccine information comes after an additional 12 deaths in British Columbia were announced – all occurring in long-term care facilities.

Dr. Henry, BC’s Provincial Health Officer, talked about the arrival of a vaccine and says there will be more details next week regarding “Operation Immunize.”

“We know that we will have limited amounts at first. So we won’t be able to broadly achieve what we’ve been calling community immunity, or herd immunity right off the bat, but that will come,” Dr. Henry said during today’s conference.

The first to receive the vaccine in January will be seniors, targeting those in long-term care facilities, and also vaccinating people most at risk from severe illness, and potentially dying as a result of contracting the disease, according to the provincial health officer.

“Our first priority will be to make sure that we are protecting those who are most at risk. We know that is the seniors and elders in our communities and long-term care homes. particularly and in hospitals here in British Columbia,” Dr. Henry said.

For the rest of British Columbia, however, the timeline will be much longer.

Dr. Henry is predicting that most residents have received the vaccine by September 2021.

“Once we have more vaccine available, we will be making it available to all of us here in BC.  And that is when we can get to that point of managing and controlling this pandemic,” she noted

Dr. Henry says supplies will be limited at first when the vaccine arrives in Canada, but the priority is to protect those most at risk.

READ MORE: B.C. reports 694 new cases of COVID-19, 10 new in Island Health as daily deaths stay high

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Indoors or out, Dr. Henry shuts down sports games – Times Colonist

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“It will be an early ­Christmas break for our players,” ­Vancouver Island Soccer League executive director Vince Greco said Thursday after hearing the news adult and youth sports games on the Island — indoor or outdoor — are shut down due to the pandemic. Youth sports can still practice and train on a ­limited basis.

“There is a lot of work to be done in making up a new ­schedule with new cohorts. We are starting from scratch,” added Greco of the largest adult league on the Island. “We are hopeful of a Jan. 8 return.”

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Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the order is for the “next few weeks.” She added that sport and physical activity accounts for 10 to 15 per cent of COVID-19 transmissions in B.C. and that may be an underestimate.

Henry announced Wednesday that all indoor adult team sports were prohibited. Further orders Thursday included outdoor sports.

Bringing people together is what sport does best and is its greatest attribute and appeal. The pandemic has, ironically, turned that into sport’s greatest detriment.

“When people come together is when this virus can spread,” said Henry, during her briefing Thursday.

“A lot of adult sports are really very much social gatherings as well as sport. Those types of gatherings are leading to transmission events. We’ve seen it in a number of adult team sports. We need to step back from those. It’s the locker-room. It’s the before, it’s the after, and the going out for coffee or beer after a game that has been the most source of transmission. It’s difficult because much of that is built into the culture of adult team sports. So let’s focus on our children. Supervised sports for young people have not been a source of the same type of risk and transmission.” Island sports organizations have reacted to the new orders.

The Victoria Minor Hockey Association, emerging from a voluntary two-week shutdown with the other 16 minor hockey associations on the Island, had just sent out its new schedule to parents and players on Tuesday. But those re-scheduled games, set to begin this weekend, are now cancelled because of the new orders. Practices are still allowed for youth sports but they have gone back to individually distanced skills and drills.

“We will be hosting a skills competition so at least we can get something competitive in,” said Nicki Reich, president of the Victoria Minor Hockey ­Association.

Juan de Fuca Minor Soccer Association president Kevin Allen informed his members by Facebook on Thursday: “Due to the just announced updated provincial health order … all games are now cancelled until further notice. As we are to move back to Phase 1, non-contact, social distanced soccer. We are hopeful that we will be able to get back on the field in the new year, but only time will tell. Hopefully, better days are ahead.”

With the vaccines coming, Henry touched on those better days.

“It may feel like it but it’s not forever. It will change,” she said.

“We will get back to having games and back to travel and playing against people from other communities. But right now we’re still having challenges. It’s not so much the kids on the field. It’s the away from the field of play. We’ve looked at not having travel and no spectators to reduce those ­probabilities. But we’re finding it’s still a challenge.”

There is a separate high-performance model that pertains to the guidelines, which includes exemptions for athletes training on the Island, Richmond and Whistler for next summer’s delayed Tokyo Olympics and the 2022 Beijing Winter Games.

It is not clear, however, how this affects other higher-performance sports. University of Victoria Vikes, Camosun College Chargers and Vancouver Island University Mariners team sports have already been cancelled for the season. But the B.C. Hockey League, with five teams in the Island Division, is scheduled to open the regular season Dec. 8 and the Victoria Royals of the WHL on Jan. 8.

The governor of a BCHL Island Division team, who did not want to be identified, said it is highly doubtful the league will begin the season as planned Dec. 8.

BCHL commissioner Chris Hebb could not be reached for comment.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com

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