44 new cases as the Halifax lockdown starts April 23 | COVID-19 | Halifax, Nova Scotia | THE COAST
Map of COVID-19 cases reported in Nova Scotia as of April 23, 2021. Legend here. THE COAST

44 new cases as the Halifax lockdown starts April 23

School cases, more variants and a nursing home infection give Friday the air of disaster.

The last time the province implemented a "circuit breaker" lockdown was in February. Over a few days case numbers crept upward and then spiked—all the way up to 10 new cases in a single day! Newly elected premier Iain Rankin and chief medical officer of health Robert Strang took fast and decisive action, immediately imposing a batch of restrictions on Halifax Regional Municipality for a month.

Sounds a lot like where we are right now, with a new month-long lockdown for HRM taking effect this morning at 8am, after yesterday's spike to 38 new cases, the most of the year. Except in February, cases dropped the day the lockdown started, then they kept falling; the lockdown was called off after a week instead of a month.

Today cases went up again. The province is reporting 44 new infections and only five people recovered since yesterday, for a total of 150 active cases. That's the most since May 11, 2020 and over 100 more than the province had in February. This lockdown feels like it's just beginning.

"Thirty-three cases are in Central Zone, five of which were identified Thursday, April 22, at Dartmouth South Academy in Dartmouth, Ross Road School in Westphal, Holland Road Elementary in Fletchers Lake, St. Catherine’s Elementary in Halifax and St. Joseph’s-Alexander McKay Elementary in Halifax," says the province's daily update. "Five cases are in Eastern Zone, four cases are in Western Zone and two are in Northern Zone."

The relatively large number of school cases lately is a factor making it feel like this third-wave outbreak is poised to become a disaster. Another factor is the recent spate of infections in nursing homes, including a case today: "One of the cases in Central Zone is a staff member at The Ivy Meadows, a long-term care facility in Beaver Bank," says the province. "As a precaution, residents are being isolated and cared for in their rooms and the facility is closed to visitors and designated caregivers."

A third factor is the rise in variant cases being identified. And yes, we've got some of that today too. "Seven UK variant cases have been identified. There have been 73 cases of the UK variant, 12 cases of the South African variant and one case of the Brazil variant identified in Nova Scotia," the province says.

At least the province isn't showing any sign of being overwhel—oh crap. The disease is overwhelming the province a bit. "Due to an increased number of investigations in recent days, exposure category (i.e., travel, close contact or unknown) is not always available by release time," today's update say. "A breakdown by zone identifying exposure categories will no longer be provided regularly."

This is a fair place for the province to cut back. When any of 44 new cases are examples of community spread, it doesn't matter how many others might be due to more comforting vectors such as travel or close contacts. Community spread is the great unpredictable danger, the reason Halifax is now in lockdown. "There are signs of community spread in Central Zone," the province says. "At this time there are no signs of community spread in Eastern, Northern or Western Zone."

One more person has gone to the hospital since yesterday's report, for a total of four COVID hospitalizations currently in Nova Scotia. Nearly 6,000 local tests were processed by local labs yesterday, which is almost double the current daily average. And about 13,500 vaccines were administered yesterday, up from the recent average of 10,000 or so per day.

“With the new restrictions taking effect today, we are asking Nova Scotians to do their part to slow the spread of COVID-19,” Rankin says via the daily update. “We’ve done this before and we can do it again. We all have a responsibility to follow the public health measures that help to keep ourselves, our families and our communities safe.”

Where Nova Scotia’s COVID-19 cases are on Friday, April 23

Western zone totals 4 new 1 closed 9 active
Yarmouth 3 - 3
Lunenburg - - 3
Wolfville 1 1 3
Central zone totals 33 new 2 closed 109 active
West Hants - - 1
Halifax 14 - 42
Dartmouth 13 2 45
Bedford - - 11
Eastern Shore 1 - 3
Northern zone totals 2 new 0 closed 6 active
Truro 1 - 4
Amherst - - -
Pictou 1 - 2
Eastern zone totals 5 new 2 closed 26 active
Antigonish - - 1
Inverness - - 2
Sydney 5 2 23

TABLE NOTES The totals for the health zones (Northern, Eastern, Western, Central) may be different than the totals you'd get by adding up the numbers in the Community Health Networks that make up each zone, because the province doesn't track all cases at the community network level. The zone totals reflect every case in the area; the community network numbers only show cases that can be localized to a region inside the bigger area. The names of the community networks here have been adapted/shortened for simplicity (click to download the province's PDF map with the exhaustively complete network names). All data comes from the Nova Scotia COVID-19 data page. We use a dash (-) instead of a zero (0) where applicable in the health network numbers to make the table easier to read.

Kyle Shaw

Kyle is the editor of The Coast. He was a founding member of the newspaper in 1993 and was the paper’s first publisher. Kyle occasionally teaches creative nonfiction writing (think magazine-style #longreads) and copy editing at the University of King’s College School of Journalism.
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