Nova Scotia reports three more COVID-19 deaths at Halifax nursing home hit hardest by pandemic

The Globe and Mail

A paramedic enters an ambulance at Northwood Manor, in Halifax, on May 1, 2020.

Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press

Nova Scotia is reporting three more deaths from COVID-19 at the Halifax nursing home that has been hardest hit in the pandemic.

The outbreak at the 485-resident Northwood long-term care facility has accounted for 35 of the province’s 41 total fatalities.

The province also reported six new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday for a total of 991 confirmed cases, while 652 people have now recovered.

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Meanwhile, the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union is expressing concern about security at the province’s land entry points.

Union president Jason MacLean says provincial conservation officers at the border with New Brunswick near Amherst, N.S., are frustrated because they don’t have the authority to turn people away if it’s deemed their travel isn’t essential.

MacLean says that’s the opposite of what’s happening in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, and the union has asked the province for the same authority.

“When you talk about P.E.I. and New Brunswick they are in an enviable position,” MacLean said of the smaller outbreaks of COVID-19 in those provinces.

“We’re not there quite yet (in Nova Scotia). All we are saying is the ability should be given to the officers to turn people away at the border.”

Last week, Premier Stephen McNeil said his government is watching developments at other provinces’ borders and could take further action as needed.

On Monday, an entry ban went into effect in Newfoundland and Labrador. Only asymptomatic workers and permanent residents will be permitted to enter the province, along with people in extenuating circumstances approved in advance by the chief medical officer of health.

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Nova Scotia imposed restrictions at its borders on March 23, requiring that anyone coming through land, sea and air entry points would be stopped, questioned and told to self-isolate for 14 days.

Exemptions were allowed for healthy workers in the trades and transport sectors, as well as those going to work in areas such as health care and for patients who need access to essential health services.

An April 6 e-mail obtained by The Canadian Press confirms the union’s contention that conservation officers can’t turn people away.

The e-mail from Orlando Fraser, the director of the conservation officer service, tells officers that they are to inform any person entering the province who isn’t exempt and who fails to self isolate that they can be charged by police.

“As you are aware we are not in the position to refuse entry, but educating on potential consequences of violating the order is allowable,” said Fraser.

Fraser also told the officers that if police ask them why they are allowing people to enter the province they are to “speak to details of the health protection order” and ask police to pass any further concerns on to him through their ranking officers.

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New Brunswick’s Public Safety Department confirms its “peace officers” including conservation officers, off-road enforcement officers and commercial vehicle enforcement officers do have the authority to turn visitors away under the province’s order.

“All unnecessary travel into New Brunswick is prohibited and peace officers are hereby authorized to turn visitors away when they attempt to enter,” the order states.

Amanda Antoine, manager of a medical clinic in a small Ontario town, was forced to self-isolate when she tested positive for the coronavirus. She shares her debilitating COVID-19 symptoms and the impact of her illness on her family and her workplace. The Globe and Mail

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