4 new COVID-19 vaccine storage sites to be set up across province

4 new COVID-19 vaccine storage sites to be set up across province

Nova Scotia will install four new COVID-19 vaccine storage sites across the province starting this week.

The ultra low-temperature freezers will be installed at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital, Colchester East Hants Health Centre, Valley Regional Hospital and Yarmouth Regional Hospital.

The freezers will be able to store any COVID-19 vaccine at the appropriate temperature, a news release from the Department of Health and Wellness said Monday.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which was approved in Canada almost two weeks ago, must be stored at temperatures between –80 C and –60 C.

“The rollout of vaccine across Nova Scotia will take time,” Premier Stephen McNeil said in the news release. “I ask everyone for their patience as our public health teams and health system partners continue their hard work over the holidays to expand access.”

An ultra-low temperature freezer is already storing the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Dalhousie University in Halifax. (Nova Scotia government)

So far, 1,463 front-line health-care workers and long-term care staff in the Halifax region have received the first dose of the vaccine.

The vaccine will arrive at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital and Valley Regional Hospital the week of Jan. 4. Each site will receive 1,950 doses.

The province is still planning the details of immunization clinics at the hospitals.

Nova Scotia is also expected to start receiving a COVID-19 vaccine made by Moderna later this month. The Moderna vaccine still needs to be approved by Health Canada before it can be administered.

Premier Stephen McNeil and Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, are expected to provide a COVID-19 update Monday at 3 p.m.

2 new cases

Two new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Nova Scotia on Monday.

One is in the central zone and the other in the western zone. Both cases are close contact of previous cases, the province says.

There are currently 38 active cases and Nova Scotia’s labs completed 1,389 tests on Sunday.

New restrictions start Monday

New household gathering limits across Nova Scotia come into effect on Monday. Gatherings must be limited to 10 people total, including household members.

All retailers in the province must also limit the number of staff and customers to 25 per cent of their legal capacity.

Gyms, libraries and museums in the Halifax region, Elmsdale, Enfield and Mount Uniacke can also reopen Monday and long-term care homes in these areas will allow family visitors.

Bars, restaurants and casinos in these areas must remain closed until at least Jan. 10, 2021. Take-out service is allowed.

While people are no longer directed to avoid the Halifax and Hants County areas, everyone should avoid unnecessary travel this holiday season. 

All the active COVID-19 exposure sites in the province can be found here.

New auto-call process

Starting on Tuesday, Nova Scotians will be able to receive their COVID-19 test results through a new automated calling process.

People who have been tested for the virus have the option to receive a negative result via email, a service the province says will continue.

But as of Tuesday, patients who provide a phone number will also be able to receive an automated call, according to a news release.

“We recognize that it’s stressful to wait for test results and it can have an impact on the ability to go to work, school and daycare, so anything we can do to make that process more efficient for those being tested is a big win,” Catherine Hebb, a Public Health director, said in the release.

A person must have a valid Nova Scotia health card in order to receive email notifications about their COVID test. Those results are sent out 24 hours a day.

Auto-call can be provided to those with any valid provincial health card, or a student or military identification number. The automatic calls can happen between noon and 5 p.m.

“It’s very important that people keep their phones with them and on if they are expecting a test result,” said Hebb in the release.

“The caller ID will indicate unknown name, unknown number; we ask people to answer those calls. They’ll also need to have their health card or identification ready.”

Nova Scotia’s first allotment of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is shown being unpacked before being placed in an ultra low-temperature freezer. (Nova Scotia government)

The person will punch in the last four digits of their health card to receive their test result.

If a person does not reply after an email and two auto-calls, they will be contacted by staff from Public Health or Service Nova Scotia, who are supplying staff to help deliver negative results.

Public Health will continue to make calls to those who test positive for the virus.

Cases in the Atlantic provinces

The latest numbers from the Atlantic provinces are:

  • Newfoundland and Labrador reported no new cases Monday. The province has 28 active cases. The province is warning of three COVID-19 exposures on flights from Halifax to Gander over the last two weeks. They have asked people in that province to come forward for testing. So far, any Nova Scotians on these flights have not been asked to get tested.
  • New Brunswick reported four new cases on Monday and has 48 active cases. 
  • P.E.I. reported one new case on Saturday. The province has seven active cases.

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