Roundup: More variant COVID cases, lightning damages historic Lunenburg Co. building, national pharmacare ‘overdue,’ N.S.’s wetlands in danger

Sarah Slean. Photo: Submitted

Health officials identified no new cases of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia yesterday, but reclassified three previously-known cases (two in the Central Zone, one in the Eastern) as the U.K. variant. According to the government press release, the cases are travel related and there’s no sign of community spread from them.

Nova Scotia has 24 known actives cases of COVID-19.

“Our continued strong testing numbers in combination with people following the public health protocols is a good formula to keep us where we need to be,” Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, says in a press release.

Nova Scotian labs completed 2,003 tests on March 28 and 296,323 since the second wave of the pandemic began in October. Health-care workers have doled out 89,194 doses of COVID-19 vaccine in the province, with 24,344 Nova Scotians getting the second shot that completes their immunization.

So far, COVID-19 has killed 66 Nova Scotians, and 22,900 people across Canada.

Strang and Premier Iain Rankin are scheduled to webcast an update today at 11:45 a.m.

Photo: Facebook

Lightning strikes historic building
During Friday’s storm, Lunenburg County came perilously close to losing one of the historic buildings that give the area its distinctive architectural character.

Lightning hit St. Mark’s Place (formerly a Lutheran church, now an event space) in Middle LeHave, blowing out a water pump control panel and starting a fire in the bell tower. Onlookers reported flames 1.5 metres high licking out of the building before the firefighters arrived.

“We made entry through the front door and we had to go up a couple of different ladders and [through] hatches to get the little bit of fire that was inside,” says local fire chief Craig Cook. “Most of the damage inside was smoke and water; everything was contained to the bell tower.”

Keith Corcoran reports for LighthouseNow.

Making medicine accessible to all
If you’ve ever needed prescriptions without the benefit of a drug plan, you probably already know that Canada’s health-care system isn’t as “universal” as we sometime imagine. A national pharmacare plan, making prescription medicines equally available to all Canadians, regardless of their economic privilege, would do much to fix that.

And it’s long overdue, according to Dr. Jock Murray and Janet P. Murray.

“Every other country with a universal health-care system has a national pharmacare program,” they say in a recent column. “Our politicians can’t argue the current system is working because many Canadians can’t afford the drugs they need … Currently Canadians pay some of the highest drug prices in the world, second only to the U.S.A. and Switzerland. One in five Canadians has inadequate or no drug coverage.”

Read more in The Pictou Advocate.

Sarah Slean. Photo: Submitted

Symphony Nova Scotia’s first Juno nomination
The collaboration between Sarah Slean and Symphony Nova Scotia on the album Ecstasy has yielded a Juno nomination, a payoff that was eight years in the making.

Slean’s part in it began with a conversation with Maestro Bernhard Gueller, who was seeking an artist who could do justice to Christos Hatzis‘s composition.

“He was looking for an innovative collaboration between a classical composer, a progressive orchestra, and an unconventional singer,” she says. “I knew about Christos Hatzis’s music … and I was very eager to work with him. When Jeff arranged for Christos and me to meet, our coffee and a stroll turned into a three-hour conversation about the nature of reality, time, the universe, and human purpose. No small talk lead-in—just straight to the good stuff! It was an exciting meeting of minds.”

She tells Ameeta Vohra about it in this exclusive new Halifax Magazine interview.

Wetlands in danger
Sustaining countless plants and animals and feeding the lakes and rivers that provide drinking water for thousands, Nova Scotia’s wetlands are a critical cornerstone of the province’s ecosystem. But climate change, pollution, and human encroachment are threatening these fragile treasures.

“We need to be better aware of the consequences of wetland infill,” says Mimi O’Handley, wetland and water officer with the Ecology Action Centre. “Although a small wetland might not store much water, a network of many small wetlands can store an enormous amount of water. Even in cases where an infilled wetland is compensated for through the province’s permitting process, the localized value and natural functions of the original wetland are lost, the hydrological cycle disrupted, and the life relying on that wetland is destroyed.”

See her column in The Reporter.

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This story was originally published in Halifax Magazine.

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