ontario news watch

Nova Scotia reports 66 COVID-19 cases, a single-day high for second day in a row

HALIFAX — Nova Scotia set another single-day high for COVID-19 cases Monday with 66 new infections.

Health officials identified 58 cases in the Halifax area, five in the eastern zone, two in the western zone and one in the northern zone. The province has 323 active reported infections.

Nine more school-based cases were identified late Sunday, including eight in the Halifax area and one in Sydney Mines, N.S. As of mid-afternoon Monday, 29 schools were closed provincewide, including 25 in the Halifax area, where community spread of the virus has been detected.

Chief medical officer of health Dr. Robert Strang has said community spread has not been detected in other areas of the province, although he said he’s concerned about a cluster of cases in Cape Breton. He has also said he expects cases to rise in the coming days.

The Nova Scotia Teachers’ Union issued a new release Monday questioning why the province hasn’t forced more schools to go into full remote learning. Union president Paul Paul Wozney said schools in other regions should join those in Dartmouth, N.S., and surrounding communities that are only offering classes remotely.

“Where community spread is present, schools are not healthy learning environments right now,” Wozney said. “NSTU is confident that our teachers are well prepared to provide quality remote learning during the circuit-break measure.”

A pediatric advisory committee, however, issued a statement stressing the importance of face-to-face, in-classroom learning. Dr. Andrew Lynk, chief of pediatrics at IWK Health, said schools have been shown to be areas of low to minimal disease transmission and do not amplify community spread. 

“Community gatherings, especially with close family and friends, are activities that present much higher risk for transmission,” Lynk said in the statement. Closing schools, he added, hurts the health and well-being of children, which is why keeping children in schools should remain “a priority within education.” 

“If, though, as a last resort, in-class learning is suspended because of the pandemic, we hope that all schools are prepared to pivot to online learning in a timely fashion,” Lynk said.

The province reported 63 new cases on Sunday — the highest number since 55 cases were reported on April 23, 2020. 

With the Halifax area under lockdown until at least May 20, authorities also increased fines for breaching public health orders, from $1,000 to $2,000. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 26, 2021. 

The Canadian Press