Roundup: 2 COVID deaths, 1st case of AZ vaccine blood clot, Premier praises globetrotting mountain climber, mourning residential school victims

Two more Nova Scotians have died from COVID-19. According to the latest government update, both men were in in their 60s and from the Central Zone. The pandemic has killed 87 Nova Scotians, with 21 of those deaths coming since April 1.

Nova Scotia has 311 known active cases of COVID-19. There are 38 people hospitalized with the disease, including 15 in ICU. Health officials reported 17 new cases (12 in the Central Zone) yesterday, and 72 recoveries.

The province has also had its first confirmed case of vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT), a rare side effect of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

“I am relieved to hear that the man who experienced a rare blood clotting event following his vaccination has received treatment and is now recovering,” Premier Iain Rankin says in a press release. “I want to remind Nova Scotians that events like this are rare. Nova Scotians who received the AstraZeneca vaccine should feel confident in their decision.”

He also reminds people who got the AstraZeneca vaccine that they now have the option of getting Pfizer or Moderna for their second dose. Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, promises information is coming to help people figure out which vaccine is right for them.

“Ultimately they’re going to have to make some decisions about their understanding of the differences in effectiveness, the rare but potentially serious side effect that can come with the AstraZeneca vaccine, the information about a slightly increased risk of non-serious short-term side effects if they mix vaccines,” he says in yesterday’s press conference. “They’re going to have to make that choice for themselves.”

Rankin chats with Kevin Walsh. Photo: Facebook

Premier praises globetrotting mountain climber
During the press conference, Rankin congratulated Dr. Kevin Walsh of Falmouth for scaling Nepal’s Mount Everest last month.

“What a proud moment for Dr. Walsh and for all Nova Scotians,” the premier says in a press release, recapping a recent chat with the recreational mountain climber. “Hearing first-hand about the climb, the danger, his amazing 60-year-old Sherpa guide who has been to the top of Everest about 15 times, and the excitement of reaching the top, was just incredible.”

Since the pandemic began, the government has repeatedly urged Nova Scotians to avoid non-essential international travel, as recently as two weeks ago telling Haligonians to not even cross the harbour to Dartmouth, leaving many wondering why the premier was praising Walsh for a recreational trip.

In the press conference, Rankin let Strang field a reporter’s question about the mixed messages. “I don’t have any details about when he might have left the country,” Strang says. (Walsh tells CBC he left for Nepal in late March).

Photo: Facebook

Mourning residential school victims
Communities across Canada are mourning the victims of the government-funded and church-run residential school system, following the discovery of 215 children’s bodies in unmarked graves near a school in Kamloops, B.C.

Pictou Landing First Nation has lined its sidewalks with 215 potted flowers, one for each of the victims.

“[This is] a beautiful way to honour the children, families, and community,” Chief Andrea Paul says in a Facebook post. “We will nurture and care for the flowers as a way to show our love for the children … Today we take the time to honour them and keep them and our survivors in our thoughts in prayers.” The Pictou Advocate reports.

In Antigonish, members of the Paqtnkek First Nation laid 215 pairs of shoes on the steps of St. Ninan’s Cathedral.

“These were our ancestors, our families,” says Bernadette Marshall, interim president of the Nova Scotia Native Women’s Association. “We should all be calling on the government of Canada to check every residential school site.” Read more in The Reporter.

Many share the fear that the Kamloops discovery is only the tip of the iceberg.

“There’s probably more residential school properties with unmarked graves as well,” tweets Todd Labrador, a traditional Mi’kmaw canoe-builder from Queens County. “Prayers for those children and families.”

Since 2019, Parks Canada has been surveying the site of the Shubenacadie Residential School, where 16 children died, according to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.

In response to a question from Halifax Magazine in yesterday’s press conference, Premier Rankin commits to continue supporting that investigation and says he’s been in contact with the Premier of British Columbia about the work in that province, to see if there are any steps Nova Scotia can emulate.

A Halifax Magazine article about the work at the Shubenacadie site is coming later this week. To learn more about that school and its legacy of abuse, see this firsthand account by a woman who attended and escaped the school.

Need to know
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This story was originally published in Halifax Magazine.

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