Roundup: 5 COVID deaths, Houston easing restrictions, public weighs in on Northern Pulp environmental assessment, Hannah Moscovitch offers a different point of view, new Oak Island book launches

Ann-Renée Desbiens set a new Canadian Olympic record, tallying 51 saves, when Canada beat the U.S. 4-2, winning Group A in Beijing. Photo: Hockey Canada

Plus: Dalhousie coach heads into medal round with Canada’s Olympic women’s hockey team

Yesterday, on one of Nova Scotia’s deadliest days of the COVID-19 pandemic — health officials reported five new deaths — Premier Tim Houston revealed plans to ease public health restrictions.

“While we still need to be cautious, things are moving in the right direction and we can start to slowly ease restrictions,” Houston says in a press release. “We ask Nova Scotians to continue following the public health measures as we work through these phases together and move toward a state of living with COVID-19.”

The plan starts Feb. 14 and has three phases, each planned to last about a month (depending on Nova Scotian’s epidemiology). In the first, events will be allowed again, gathering limits will increase, and border restrictions for domestic travellers will end. In the second phase, gathering limits will be further increased. In the final phase, there will be no gathering limits or distancing requirements.

“As always, we aim to strike the balance between measures that help limit the spread of the virus and allowing our society and economy to function,” says Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health. “As we ease restrictions, we’ll monitor closely and make adjustments to our plans if necessary.”

COVID update
The COVID deaths announced yesterday include two women in their 90s from the Central Zone, a woman in her 60s from the Northern Zone, a woman in her 70s from the Western Zone, and a woman in her 80s from the Eastern Zone.

Health officials estimate there are 3,232 active cases of COVID in Nova Scotia, with 365 new lab-confirmed cases reported yesterday. But those numbers don’t reflect COVID’s true extent. Houston’s government recently stopped widespread testing and follow-up, saying that the pervasiveness of the Omicron strain requires focusing on vulnerable areas like hospitals.

Nova Scotia Health is now asking people to self-report their test results to “collect information to help quickly identify people who are eligible for and may benefit from COVID-19 medications and treatments.”

Health officials also reported eight new hospital admissions and four discharges yesterday, for a total of 91 people hospitalized for COVID and getting treatment in specialized units, including 16 in ICU. There are also 135 people who were admitted to hospital for another reason but tested positive for COVID (or were in a COVID unit but no longer require specialized care), and 141 who contracted the disease in hospital.

Troy Ryan. Photo: Hockey Canada

Dalhousie coach checks in from Olympics
Troy Ryan, head coach of the Dalhousie Tigers, is helming the Canadian Olympic women’s hockey team in Beijing. After going undefeated in the round robin and finishing atop their group, the team is well positioned to grab gold, taking on Sweden in the quarter-finals tomorrow night.

The team’s winning streak included a bizarre 6-1 win over the Russian squad on Feb. 6, with the Canadians wearing masks throughout the game as their opponents failed to provide COVID-19 tests by game time.

“We heard some discussions were being had and that our game would be delayed,” Ryan says. “Our coaching staff stayed in the coaches’ room, we updated the players but we really didn’t have any timelines on the delay or how long it would be … We told our girls to put their masks on and it was business as usual.”

Drake Lowthers has more for the Reporter.

Hannah Moscovitch. Photo: Ian Selig

Hannah Moscovitch offers a different point of view
Hannah Moscovitch recently won a Governor General’s Literary Award for drama for her play Sexual Misconduct of the Middle Classes, a story challenging audiences to reconsider how we look at each other and our relationships.

“He speaks to the audience, and you see the romantic view, including all his struggles around whether it’s OK to have an affair with a 19-year-old student,” Moscovitch explains. “And then, the end of the romance and then you meet Annie and John, four years later in a hotel. Annie hasn’t seen John in three years, and she questions him about why he had this affair with her … In the very last scene of Annie coming in her 30s, now to tell John that she’s written a play about what happened from his point of view because she was trying to understand what happened between them … A woman wrote it in order to understand her own experience.”

Read her recent interview with Ameeta Vohra in the current issue of Unravel Halifax.

Public weighs in on Northern Pulp
About 1,300 public submissions have flooded into the provincial government during the public consultation period for Northern Pulp’s environmental assessment.

The Pictou pulp mill registered for an assessment in December, as management works on a plan to reopen with a new effluent treatment facility.

Northern Pulp now has up to three weeks to respond to the submissions.

The Pictou Advocate reports.

John Bell. Photo: Submitted

New Oak Island book launches
Lunenburg historian John Bell digs into the many theories surrounding Oak Island and its rumoured treasure in his new book, Oak Island Illustrated: The 225-Year Search for Truth and Treasure.

“It’s another way of looking at the treasure hunt and trying to understand it,” Bell says. “You can fill a book case with Oak Island books, but I thought it would be an interesting challenge to approach in a new way.”

Gayle Wilson interviews him for LighthouseNow.

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