Health officials say they’ve found two more cases of the U.K. variant of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia. This variant of the disease spreads more easily, leading one top British scientist to warn that it could “sweep the world.”

These two cases were initially reported last month in the Central Zone and their samples went to the National Microbiology Lab for variant testing. The initial investigation, which has since reopened, didn’t find a source for the infections.

Dr. Robert Strang. Photo: CNS

“With this new information we are being cautious,” Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, says in a press release. “We are asking the people connected to these cases to get retested and NSHA [Nova Scotia Health Authority] will reissue the potential exposure notice.”

This brings the total of known cases in Nova Scotia involving the U.K. variant to three. The lab also previously confirmed a case of the South African variant, tested in December.

COVID count stays low
Nova Scotia has nine known active cases of COVID-19, with one new case reported in the Central Zone, according to the latest government update. One person is currently hospitalized in ICU with the disease.

Nova Scotia Health Authority labs completed 1,253 tests on Feb. 9 and 173,931 since the second wave began in October.

Health-care workers have dispensed 20,013 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, with 5,900 Nova Scotians getting the second dose that completes their inoculation.

Simone Metlege. Photo: LinkedIn

Love in a box
For many caterers, the pandemic has been a catastrophe, but Boxed Bites owner Simone Metlege is having one of her busiest weeks.

This week, she’s busy assembling sweet and savoury grazing boxes (artistically packaged selections of charcuterie, appetizers, and desserts) for Valentine’s Day. Offering unique flavours from local providers is her mission.

“I started because I like playing with food and the way things look,” she adds. “I just started learning more. I wanted to showcase my growth in the menu, so it looks good, but you’re getting perfect pairings and quality, and supporting local. It’s nice learning from each other and being able to support each other, but they are giving me so much advice in return.”

She tells Ameeta Vohra about it for Halifax Magazine.

Bridgewater plans for active transportation
The municipal government in Bridgewater has approved a new plan to encourage non-motorized travel in the town via trails, sidewalks, and bicycle lanes.

Dartmouth-based architecture and planning firm ZZap Consulting wrote the plan, which prioritizes installation of sidewalks and pedestrian crossings along bus routes and bicycle parking.

“I think the public perception of active transportation has changed, and they’re seeing it as more important,” says Mayor David Mitchell.

Keith Corcoran reports for LighthouseNow.

Pictou transit ready to roll
After a decade in the making, Pictou County Transit is about to begin service, linking the towns of New Glasgow and Stellarton.

“If the ridership numbers are adequate, then the service will continue and other municipalities may join in,” says executive director Danny MacGillivray. “People are excited about the service coming… It will definitely help some of our more marginalized communities the most.”

Jackie Jardine has details for The Pictou Advocate.

Housing a priority for Port Hawkesbury
Port Hawkesbury is facing a housing crunch, an issue that local activists want atop the local government’s agenda. The crisis hits the young and the elderly hardest, says Celeste Gotell of the Strait Richmond Housing Coalition.

“Couch surfing is particularly common among youth—youth who live in very unstable homes, may have been asked to leave, don’t feel safe,” she says. “Often seniors… may have had some decline in their health, or what have you, which makes it very difficult to live in rural communities because they may not be able to drive.”

See Jake Boudrot’s story for The Reporter.

Need to know
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Halifax Magazine