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Canada

N.S. to get help from military as officials report another record jump in COVID cases

HALIFAX — Nova Scotia is receiving help from the Canadian Armed Forces as the province tries to control a COVID-19 outbreak that health officials said increased by a record 96 cases on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters Tuesday the military will deploy 60 service members to assist at COVID-19 testing centres in Nova Scotia. Trudeau said the province requested the aid because of the rapid rise in cases, particularly in the Halifax area.

Nova Scotia on Tuesday reported a record number of new COVID-19 cases for the third consecutive day; officials reported 66 cases on Monday and 63 on Sunday.

Ninety of the new cases were identified in the Halifax area. Another three were reported in the province’s eastern zone, two in the western zone and one in the northern zone. Nova Scotia has 419 active reported infections.

Health officials imposed a lockdown in the Halifax area last week and have closed all the schools in the region for the next two weeks. Officials also imposed tighter restrictions on the rest of the province until at least May 20. 

The new rules announced Monday include an indoor and outdoor gathering limit of 10 people outside the Halifax area; in Halifax, gathering limits were set at five people. 

Meanwhile, three more school-based COVID-19 cases were reported late Monday, including at Sydney Academy in Sydney, N.S., which is to remain closed to students until Friday for cleaning. The other two cases were identified at Bedford and Forsyth Education Centres Bedford campus and at Halifax West High. 

In Sydney, parent Amanda Carroll had already decided to keep her two children home this week because of an increase in cases in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality. Carroll has a five-year-old son and a 16-year-old daughter who attends Sydney Academy.

Despite case numbers that are still significantly lower than those in the Halifax area, Carroll said in an interview she feels “completely uneasy” and wishes there was an order requiring people to stay home.

“Our numbers are going the wrong way,” she said. “And while they (health officials) don’t see community spread here yet, I feel like it’s only a matter of a few days before they do.”

Cape Breton Mayor Amanda McDougall said in an interview that while she senses unease in her community, she’s reassured by the number of people who have been turning out to get tested.

“We’re getting the data that is required by the province to make decisions on restrictions going forward so that is a good thing,” McDougall said.

Still, as the mother of a school-aged child and a five-month-old son who has a compromised immune system, the mayor admitted she is “scared” and would like to see schools in her region closed.

“Because of the numbers and the concern in the community, it would be a smart thing to do if we are trying to be proactive,” McDougall said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 27, 2021. 

Keith Doucette, The Canadian Press