Nova Scotia to make COVID-19 testing mandatory for rotational workers

Nova Scotia is reporting one new case of COVID-19 on Tuesday, with 27 active cases in the province.

The new case is in the province’s central health zone and is a close contact of a previously reported case, according to a news release from the Department of Health and Wellness.

At a briefing this afternoon, the province also announced mandatory testing for rotational workers returning to Nova Scotia after working in another part of the country. 

The high number of cases, especially in Alberta where many Nova Scotians work, is concerning, Premier Stephen McNeil said in Tuesday’s press briefing.

Currently, rotational workers are asked to get tested within the first two days of their return to Nova Scotia, and again about a week later.

“Not all rotational workers are complying, and that’s a problem,” he said.

Dr. Robert Strang said only about one-third of rotational workers are actually getting tested.

Effective Friday, COVID-19 testing will be mandatory for rotational workers who work outside Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Audits will be completed, and rotational workers will be contacted by phone to remind them of the need to get tested. Anyone who does not get tested will be fined $1,000.

Regardless of test results, rotational workers must complete their modified 14-day self-isolation.

Funding for universities

The province will be spending $25 million to help Nova Scotia universities manage the financial impact of the pandemic, according to a news release Tuesday from the Department of Labour and Advanced Education.

The funding is intended to help with revenue lost in 2020-2021 related to tuition and residence fees, and pandemic-related costs around curriculum development, information technology and increased cleaning.

The money will be doled out to 10 Nova Scotia universities based on information they provided to the province about expenses they incurred in response to the pandemic.

Dalhousie University will receive the largest portion of the funding, close to $9.5 million. The Atlantic School of Theology is getting the smallest chunk, about $218,000.

The funding is for university institutions only — Nova Scotia Community College is not listed among the recipients.

Returning students urged to get tested

Five cases have been identified at Nova Scotia universities in January, including two on Monday, as students return from winter break.

The province is urging students who have returned from outside the Atlantic provinces to book a COVID-19 test on the sixth, seventh or eighth day of their quarantine, regardless of whether they have symptoms.

Any students experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 must complete a self-assessment online or call 811. Students still must complete their 14-day isolation period even with a negative test result.

Acadia University in Wolfville, N.S., is one of 10 Nova Scotia universities that will receive funding from the province to help counter revenue loss in 2020-2021. (Elizabeth McMillan/CBC)

Multiple fines issued

Police in Halifax say they have issued tickets for failing to comply with the public health regulations in two separate incidents last weekend.

Halifax Regional Police said the first incident happened at 9:30 p.m. on Friday, after they received a report that a delivery driver from a Bedford restaurant was not wearing a mask while delivering orders to an apartment building.

Officers issued a $1,000 summary offence ticket to the man for violating the Health Protection Act, according to a news release sent out on Tuesday.

The current COVID regulations require people to wear a mask that covers their nose and mouth while in an indoor public space, which includes building lobbies.

Police confirmed on Tuesday the incident was not connected to the Lower Sackville restaurant Hellas, whose owner was also fined on Friday for failing to wear a mask.

Police responded to a separate incident at 12:30 a.m. on Sunday at a residence in Halifax.

There was a report of a social gathering that exceeded the gathering limits of 10 people. A police spokesperson, Const. John MacLeod, said there were approximately 20 people in the residence.

Officers issued tickets to three men, the residents of the home, and each were fined $1,000.

Robin MacLean, a nurse and clinical practice leader at the Valley Regional Hospital emergency department, was the first person in western zone to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine was administered by nurse Cindi Mattinson on Tuesday. (Communications Nova Scotia)

More vaccinations start in N.S.

On Monday, a Cape Breton nurse was the first to be immunized outside of the Halifax region and the province also began vaccinating long-term care residents at Northwood.

Immunizations using the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine began in the western health zone on Tuesday, starting at the Valley Regional Hospital in Kentville.

Phase 1 vaccinations in the western zone will be limited to health-care workers and designated caregivers at long-term care facilities, according to a government spokesperson.

Ann Hicks was “absolutely delighted” to be the first Northwood resident immunized against COVID-19 on Monday. The executive director for Northwood’s long-term care program, Josie Ryan, says all residents at the Halifax facility should be vaccinated this week. 0:58

Atlantic Canada case numbers

The latest COVID-19 numbers from the Atlantic provinces are:

  • New Brunswick reported 17 new cases on Tuesday and 219 active cases. The province is also reporting two deaths, bringing the total to 11 since the start of the pandemic. Every zone of the province has been rolled back to orange-phase restrictions to deal with the growing number of cases.
  • Newfoundland and Labrador reported no new cases on Monday. There are five active cases in the province, with one person in hospital.
  • P.E.I. reported one new case on Tuesday — the person travelled outside of Atlantic Canada and is self-isolating. There are now eight active cases on the island.

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