The total number of new COVID-19 cases in Atlantic Canada was in the single digits Wednesday as word came that Health Canada has approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for use in this country.
Premier Blaine Higgs said his province’s all-party COVID cabinet committee would meet Wednesday evening to discuss the rollout of the vaccine, with first doses expected to arrive next week.
“I only know what’s coming next week. I don’t know if it’s coming Monday, Wednesday or Friday,” Higgs told reporters at the legislature. “We’ll be able to communicate, I hope tomorrow, that here’s the plan for this particular supply.”
Provincial health officials on Wednesday reported one new COVID-19 case, which they said is travel-related and involves a person in their 30s in the Saint John zone.
Higgs said the committee would discuss the status of Saint John, which has been under orange-level restrictions since Nov. 29 following an outbreak of cases at a seniors long-term care facility.
Meanwhile, Nova Scotia reported six new cases of COVID-19, registering its fifth consecutive day with fewer than 10 new cases as it deals with a recent outbreak in the province, primarily in the Halifax area. Health officials said the number of active cases had dropped to 71 from 78 reported on Tuesday.
All of the new cases were in the Halifax area. Four were close contacts of previously reported cases, while one was related to travel outside of Atlantic Canada and the other case was under investigation.
With Nova Scotia set to roll out its first allotment of vaccine to frontline health-care workers in Halifax on Tuesday, Premier Stephen McNeil issued an appeal to the public.
“My message to all Nova Scotians it to stay committed to the public health protocols,” McNeil said following a cabinet meeting. “We have worked so hard as a province to deal with the issue of COVID and to keep it away. Let’s not let our guard down now when we are right at the cusp of being able to get this vaccine.”
The province reported Tuesday that testing of workers would begin at an unidentified poultry plant in the Annapolis Valley where two cases of novel coronavirus had been detected. McNeil confirmed that the plant has closed and testing is underway, including rapid testing in the community.
“Of the tests that have been done so far today, there were no reported cases,” he said.
Meanwhile, Education Minister Zach Churchill said discussions were still underway on the possibility of extending the Christmas break for schools, adding that a decision would need to come soon. However, Churchill noted there had only been a total of 10 cases in a school system with more than 120,000 students.
“There has usually only been one case per school and the individual contracted the virus outside of the school,” he said.
Newfoundland and Labrador reported one new case of COVID-19 Wednesday, and officials said the infection is related to travel.
In Prince Edward Island, chief public health officer, Dr. Heather Morrison, said all test results received since Tuesday have come back negative. A large majority of the tests have been Islanders in their 20s, who answered a call to get tested after a cluster of COVID-19 cases was identified in that age group on the weekend.
Each of the four provinces is expecting to receive 1,950 doses of the Pfizer vaccine in the first shipment next week.
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