“We haven't made final decisions,” Strang said about what Phase 5 of reopening looks like.

The disease slows down, and so does doctor Strang

With COVID stable and Phase 5 coming up, Strang has stopped regular briefings.

Nova Scotia is still in a State of Emergency—in fact, it was renewed in the province on Friday and will last until at least August 8. Despite that, each provincial political party’s election campaigning has begun, and door-knocking is already taking place.

“We've worked with Elections Nova Scotia for months,” said doctor Robert Strang, the province’s chief medical officer of health, when asked if he thought it was safe. “And so I think we have the right protocols in place, both for campaigning, and then also for voting.”

In fact, the province thinks it’s so safe, it’s not planning any more public COVID-19 briefings.

“We’d been thinking for a few weeks that as our epidemiology stabilized and we have robustly implemented our vaccine program that we needed to move away from the regular briefings,” explained Strang Friday in a media-only briefing. But if COVID causes “significant issues” he’ll be more available.

The disease’s slowdown is also marked by the province stopping COVID updates on Saturdays and Sundays. So where some recent weeks featured seven days of reports plus three live briefings from Strang and the premier—a total of 10 regular contacts about the pandemic—the government is now down to half that rate, with reports five days per week.

“What it means is looking at reducing or even removing any border requirements for domestic travellers.”
—Robert Strang on Phase 5

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On August 15, mass vaccination clinics will also shut down because well, most people have been vaccinated. However, pharmacy and doctors-office clinics will remain open into the fall.

“They may not all be open all the time,” said Strang. “But they’re working to make sure there’s a pharmacy that’s available within reasonable hours seven days a week in communities across the province.”

But it’s not all good news for the province. Strang also went into detail on Friday about 22 reported cases of either myocarditis or pericarditis in the province—a swelling of the heart or the lining around the heart that follows mRNA vaccination.

“Most of these cases happen within a week of getting the mRNA vaccine,” Strang said. “In people under 30 years of age, and it seems to be more common in males and after the second dose.”

However, he says this is “very different” than the side effect that was being caused by AstraZeneca, and all patients have fully recovered. “Thankfully cases have been relatively mild and respond well to conservative treatment and rest.”

There was also another death in the province last week—a woman in her 50s. But Strang revealed on Friday that she was not immunized against COVID-19.

“We are not seeing community spread anywhere in the province at this time,” he added, explaining that all the recent cases, including a third on the HMCS Halifax vessel, are in clusters.

Vaccinations and Phase 5

Overall, the province’s vaccination rates are still increasing, albeit slowly. “We do still have some work to do,” he says, mostly around young people. “But we do continue to see progress.”

Strang says there are still over 1,000 people coming out for first doses almost every day, most of whom are young people, but the province is working on a way to increase those numbers even more.

“Right now we have about 200,000 appointments booked until the end of August,” Strang said. “But within that there are about 72,000 people who’ve had their first dose but have not yet moved up appointments for their second dose.”

After all, we’ll need everyone who can to get vaccinated (at least 75 percent of the total population, or 85 percent of those eligible) to meet our Phase 5 reopening requirements. Strang gave a few details Friday about what that final phase will look like, but most of it is still being determined.

“We haven't made final decisions,” Strang said. “But I think it's safe to say that once we were able to get to that Phase 5, what it means is looking at reducing or even removing any border requirements for domestic travellers.

“It would also mean removing most, if not all, of the restrictions and mandatory measures. But continuing to support and promote many of the individual measures such as increased hand washing, increased cleaning, being careful about our social circles, recommending masking in indoor places.”

About The Author

Victoria Walton

Victoria has been a full-time reporter with The Coast since April 2020, covering such topics as COVID-19, small business and politics. Originally from the Annapolis Valley, she graduated from the University of King’s College School of Journalism in 2017.

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