Nova Scotia is reporting four new cases of COVID-19 as stricter rules take effect to stop the spread of the virus.
Provincial health officials say three of the most recent cases are in the Halifax region and are close contacts of previously identified patients, while the fourth case in eastern Nova Scotia is related to travel outside Atlantic Canada.
The latest infections bring the total number of active cases to 39 as new measures to control the virus take effect in Halifax and some neighbouring municipalities.
Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer Dr. Robert Strang says while the number of new cases is low, he remains concerned that some recent cases do not have an obvious source of infection.
He says the new restrictions will act like a “circuit breaker” to stop the potential spread of a new coronavirus variant first detected in the United Kingdom.
The new measures include closing restaurants and bars by 10 p.m. as well as restrictions on visitors to long-term care homes.
All sporting games, competitions, tournaments and in-person performances have been banned, though sports practices and training or arts and culture rehearsals can continue with a cap of up to 25 people without spectators.
Nova Scotians are also being asked to avoid all non-essential travel within the province, especially to and from the Halifax area.
Premier Iain Rankin reiterated the need for stricter restrictions despite the low number of new cases on Saturday.
“While today’s case count is lower than the last two days, I am still greatly concerned about the trend we have been seeing in recent case numbers in Halifax,” he said in a statement.
“We must follow the public health restrictions to reverse the recent trend. No matter whether you live in Halifax or elsewhere in the province, I encourage you, even if you don’t have symptoms, to book an appointment at one of the primary assessment centres or drop into a pop-up testing site.”
The new measures cover areas of the Halifax Regional Municipality up to and including Porters Lake, as well as the communities of Enfield, Elmsdale, Lantz, Mount Uniacke and Hubbards.
The new rules took effect at 8 a.m. Saturday and will be in place until March 26, with an extension possible.
Meanwhile, the province has also changed rules for rotational workers. They will now be required to undergo three COVID-19 tests during their modified 14-day quarantine.
Irving Shipbuilding, one of the largest employer’s in the province, temporarily suspended production at the Halifax shipyard for the day Friday after a member of its workforce tested positive for COVID-19.
The company is holding a pop-up testing site to test its employees this weekend.