Roundup: More COVID vaccine coming, thousands lose doctor in Pictou Co., story behind dramatic fishery rescue, Desmond inquiry update

Nova Scotia has 30 known active cases of COVID-19, with three new cases (two in the Central Zone, one in the Northern) reported in the latest government update. Four people are hospitalized with the disease, including two in ICU.

Nova Scotia Health Authority labs completed 6,875 tests on March 2, and 226,960 since the second wave of the pandemic began in October.

“Nova Scotia Health Authority’s labs set another one-day record,” Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, says in a press release. “This is an indication of the strong uptake in testing among Nova Scotians. Let’s continue to make testing a part of our regular COVID-19 prevention measures.”

Premier Rankin and Dr. Strang. Photo: CNS

As of March 2, Nova Scotian health-care workers have dispensed 35,291 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, with 13,512 Nova Scotians getting the second jab that completes the inoculation.

Nova Scotia to get AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine
The provincial government expects to get an initial 13,000 doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine next week, according to an announcement yesterday. It is the third COVID-19 vaccine Health Canada has approved.

Doctors Nova Scotia and the Pharmacy Association of Nova Scotia are responsible for the launch of the new doses.

“We are pleased that conversations … have resulted in a commitment from them to develop a plan by next week to distribute this vaccine to Nova Scotians,” Premier Iain Rankin says in a press release. “This vaccine provides another tool in our fight against COVID-19.”

Officials will have to move quickly: the doses expire in a month, leaving health-care workers with an inflexible April 2 deadline. They plan to start dispensing the vaccine by the week of March 15, making it available to people age 50 to 64 on a first-come, first-served basis.

Trials show the AstraZeneca vaccine to be 62% effective. The preceding Moderna and Pfizer-BioNtech vaccines are both more than 90% effective. The main advantage of the AstraZeneca vaccine is that, unlike the others, it doesn’t require deep-cold storage, making it easier to transport.

“The National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommends that higher efficacy vaccines should be offered to those who are most at risk of severe disease and exposure in order to reduce hospitalizations, deaths and to limit the worsening of health inequities,” says the government announcement.

Peggy Prowse

Peggy Prowse wanted to build a better world
When Peggy Prowse and her new husband left Britain, New Zealand was their first choice. But they ended up in Canada, where Prowse gravitated to the newly-formed New Democratic Party.

In Nova Scotia, the NDP languished with no MLAs and single-digit support in the polls, but that didn’t dampen her enthusiasm. She was the NDP’s first woman candidate in Nova Scotian and then became a key party organizer. Both provincially and federally, she championed progressive policies and collaborated with political titans like Tommy Douglas, the father of public health care.

Now in her 90s, she fondly recalls those days in this new Halifax Magazine post by Dorothy Grant.

New Glasgow doctor drops thousands of patients
Many people in Pictou County are losing their family doctor, after the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia ordered Dr. Emmanuel Rivera to drop 2,500 of his 4,000 patients.

Pattie LaCroix, spokesperson for the organization, shared few details but says the limits on his practice aren’t disciplinary. A statement on the College’s website says Rivera, who started practising in Nova Scotia in 2014, didn’t hit the five-year deadline to get his full licence.

As of Feb. 1, there were already 4,941 people in Pictou County on the waiting list for a family doctor.

Janet Whitman reports for The Pictou Advocate.

The fishing vessel Atlantic Destiny. Photo: Frank Bailey

The story behind a dramatic fishery rescue
All 31 fishers from the Riverport-based Atlantic Destiny are back home now, after the combination of a stubborn fire, eight-metre waves, and 100 km/h winds left them in serious peril.

The fishing boat Cape LaHave, owned by LaHave Seafoods in Lunenburg County, was one of the first on the scene, but was unable to rescue the crew.

“You can’t transfer from those boats in that weather,” says company spokesman David Himmelman. “[Rescuers] did well to get them off with a helicopter. That was quite an experience, I’m sure, in those seas, and that much wind, that to even airlift all those people off there safely was great.”

Keith Corcoran shares more about the near-disaster in this LighthouseNow story.

Desmond inquiry update
When the Canadian Armed Forces returned Lionel Desmond to civilian life in 2015, he was experiencing a particularly complex case of PTSD, unable to cope with his experiences in Afghanistan.

Less than two years later, he’d murder his mother, wife, and daughter, then take his own life.

Psychologist Dr. Mathieu Murgatroyd treated Desmond after his discharge, but admits to little progress. “We’re talking about individuals that have severe mental health issues and challenges—PTSD, depression—which can lead to poor coping strategies,” he says.

After a year’s pause, the government inquiry into the Desmond case resumed this month. Drake Lowthers is doing ongoing coverage for The Reporter.

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This story was originally published in Halifax Magazine.

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