Roundup: More variant COVID cases, vaccination update, no charges for Onslow shooting cops, more bacteria in Mersey River, $7M tax break for small biz

Nova Scotia has 29 known active cases of COVID-19, with one new case (in the Northern Zone) reported in the latest government update. Four people are currently hospitalized with the disease, including two in ICU.

Unrelated to the case being announced today, the National Microbiology Lab has identified in the province two more cases of the U.K. variant (AKA B.1.1.7) and five more cases of the South African variant (501.V2). This brings the total number of known cases of the U.K. variant in Nova Scotia to eight and South African variant to six.

Nova Scotia Health Authority labs completed 5,146 tests on March 1 and 220,085 since the second wave of the pandemic began in October.

Photo: CNS

Vaccination update
The province’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout is on track, according to an update yesterday from Premier Iain Rankin and Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health.

The vaccination process is now expanding to include initial pharmacy clinics and community health-care providers.

“In a few short months we have set up clinics for health-care workers, in long-term care, in the community and soon, vaccines will be available in pharmacies,” Rankin says in a press release. “We are taking a measured and steady approach.”

This month, officials plan to launch pharmacy prototype clinics in HRM (March 9), Shelburne (March 9), Port Hawkesbury (March 16), and Springhill (March 23). People eligible for vaccination at one of those clinics will get an information in the mail.

The immunization plan is also expanding to include anyone who works in a hospital and may contact patients, and community health-care providers who provide direct care.

“In keeping with our age-based approach to vaccine rollout, health-care workers in the next group will receive their vaccine based on their age,” Strang says. “We will begin with those who are age 60 and older and then work back in five-year age groups.”

Four of the 10 community-based vaccination clinics opened for booking in Halifax, Sydney, Truro, and New Minas on March 1. These clinics are scheduled to start giving shots on March 8. Three more community COVID-19 vaccination clinics in (Antigonish, Halifax, and Yarmouth) are also supposed to start booking on March 8 for clinics running on March 15.

As of March 1, Nova Scotia has dispensed 33,471 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, with 12,891 people getting the second jab that completes their inoculation.

No charges in Onslow RCMP shooting
Nova Scotia’s Serious Incident Response Team says there are no grounds for charges again two RCMP officers who mistakenly shot at an unarmed civilian and a fellow cop.

While responding to the mass shooting last April, the two RCMP officers arrived at the Onslow firehall and encountered another officer and a civilian. They yelled at the civilian to show their hands, but the person instead fled. Thinking they faced the killer, the newly arrived RCMP officers opened fire.

They peppered the firehall with bullets, terrifying the civilians sheltering inside, but missed their target. The officers realized their mistake and quickly left the scene.

“They had reasonable grounds to believe [the civilian] was the killer and someone who would continue his killing rampage,” says the report from Felix Cacchione, director of the Serious Incident Response Team. “They discharged their weapons in order to prevent further deaths or injuries.”

Raissa Tetanish has the story for Hub Now.

Senna Peeters (left). Photo: Submitted

Hockey on pause
The on-again/off-again hockey season is off again, the latest delay in a season full of uncertainty for Halifax Mooseheads’ players, coaches, and fans.

The delays could seriously disrupt the development of rising pro-bound talents like captain Justin Barron and Belgian import Senna Peeters, but head coach J.J. Daigneault is pleased the team has been able to keep practising and training together through the season.

“We have an opportunity to be on the ice, be together, improve together, and improve individually,” he says. “It’s crucial and imperative that I keep a good, positive mindset, and hopefully, it will transfer its way to the players and keep a lighter side to everything that is done.”

In this new Halifax Magazine feature, Ameeta Vohra interviews players, coaches, and fans about a most unusual season.

Mersey River bacteria count grows
Grade 7 Queens County students have been testing the Mersey River for fecal bacteria, and they continue to get frightening results. Currently, they say levels are the highest they’ve been since the project began.

The third round of tests for enterococci levels near the Henry Hensey bridge in Liverpool showed a 611% increase from 124 to 758 enterococci per 100 millilitres of water.

Health Canada regulations says it’s unadvisable to swim in waters where the count is 70 enterococci per 100 ml. At 170 enterococci per 100 ml, people shouldn’t touch the water at all.

“The kids feel strongly about the need for signs at swimming locations to warn people of the risks,” says teacher Jill Leuschner.

Kevin McBain reports for LighthouseNow.

Premier Iain Rankin

$7-million tax break for small businesses
As the pandemic continues to play hob with many businesses’ operations, the provincial government is launching a $7-million property-tax rebate program for the service sector.

“This is cash in the pockets for restaurants and other small businesses in the service sector,” Premier Rankin says. “The rebate may be based on property taxes but is designed to be used by business owners to support any aspect of their business.”

The Pictou Advocate has details.

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This story was originally published in Halifax Magazine.

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