Dr. Robert Strang is sounding the alarm.

“We are seeing a concerning rise in cases,” Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health says in a press release. “There are now early signs of community spread in the Sackville, Halifax, Dartmouth, and Lawrencetown areas. We’re asking residents of these areas to closely follow public health measures and go get tested for COVID-19. Testing is one way to detect cases early on, which will help manage them and limit the spread of the virus.”

Nova Scotia has 79 known active cases of COVID-19, with 25 new cases (19 in the Central Zone, three in the Northern, and three in the Eastern) reported in the latest government update.

Nineteen cases are in Central Zone. Four are related to travel outside of Atlantic Canada. The people are self-isolating, as required. Nine are close contacts of previously reported cases, two of which were identified Tuesday, April 20, at Dartmouth South Academy and Auburn Drive High. Six are under investigation, one of which was identified Tuesday, April 20, at Mount Edward Elementary.

Dr. Robert Strang. Photo: CNS

Health officials say that one of the cases they’re investigating is a worker at Ocean View Continuing Care Centre, a long-term care home in Eastern Passage. Residents are isolating in their room and the site is closed to visitors. Most of the residents are fully vaccinated; efforts to inoculate the remainder and staff continue.

The government also announced two more Dartmouth school cases, at Joseph Giles Elementary and Shannon Park Elementary, plus a case at Bell Park Academic Centre in Lake Echo. The schools are closed until April 27 for cleaning, testing, and contact tracing.

Nova Scotian labs did 4,562 tests on April 20.

At latest count, the province has dispensed 230,801 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, with 33,356 Nova Scotians getting the second dose that completes inoculation.

COVID-19 has killed 67 Nova Scotians.

Strang and Premier Iain Rankin are scheduled to webcast an update today at 1:30 p.m.

Photo: Hockey Canada

World Women’s Hockey Championship cancelled (again)
The provincial government has cancelled the on-again/off-again World Women’s Hockey Championship that was scheduled for next month in Halifax and Truro.

“It was my recommendation the 2021 IIHF Women’s World Hockey Championships be cancelled,” Premier Rankin says in The Pictou Advocate. “I sincerely regret the short notice, but the rapidly changing environment dictates this decision in the interest of the safety of Nova Scotians and participants.”

René Fasel, president of the International Ice Hockey Federation, casts doubts on the decision in a statement on the organization’s website. “We strongly believe that we had the adequate safety measures in place to protect players, officials, spectators, and all residents in Halifax and Truro, based on the IIHF and Hockey Canada’s experiences from hosting the IIHF World Junior Championship in Edmonton,” he says.

Is burning biomass the answer?
Jamie Stephen is selling Nova Scotian communities on the merits of district energy systems that would burn the forestry byproducts that haven’t had a market since Northern Pulp closed.

“Municipal-owned district energy just makes a lot of sense,” says Stephen, founder and managing director of TorchLight Bioresources, with 18 years of experience in consulting and research in the bio-energy field. “It allows you to utilize a local resource and creates a huge number of jobs. Over $1 billion a year could remain in province to be spent on local wood fuel, rather than spent on importing oil, natural gas, and coal.”

The Ecology Action Centre is on board, but cautiously.

“What’s the best thing you could do with these leftovers? Frankly, sweep them up and truck them back to the woods to feed our otherwise very impoverished soils,” says senior wilderness coordinator Raymond Plourde. “But that’s impractical. Selling into a biomass market that was focused exclusively on supplying district heating plants in municipalities throughout the province, to a certain limit, makes sense.”

Janet Whitman reports for Halifax Magazine.

San Telmo. Photo: The Reporter

Community sends care to quarantined mariners
Off the coast of Port Hawkesbury, the COVID-stricken oil tanker San Telmo remains at anchor, its crew quarantining on board. Recently, locals, businesses, and community groups chipped in to send them a care package, including local food, puzzles, and games.

Joel Ouellette, one of the organizers of the project, explains that it’s easy to empathize with what the crew are enduring.

“It’s hard enough to be wondering if you’re going to get COVID, let alone are you going to get COVID thousands of miles away from home, and is it going to delay you from getting home?” he says. “We all have family members who worked away—whether it’s in construction, or the oil patch, or serving in the Armed Forces, or at sea, or whatever. We’re a whole community of people who have family members that have had to do that. If we were in that situation, if our family members were in that situation, we would hope that the community would do a little something.”

Jake Boudrot has more for The Reporter.

Hero cat saves family
Firefighters say a family in Canaan, Lunenburg County should be thanking their cat after it alerted them to a pre-dawn chimney fire that was quickly spreading.

“The cat woke them up to a house full of smoke,” says Cody Stevens, Chester’s volunteer deputy fire chief. The man “got his kids and wife out and proceeded to do what he could to save his house.” Armed with a garden hose, the man fought the fire for several minutes until help arrived. (Don’t do this, recommends Stevens).

The cat, along with other pets, escaped unharmed.

Keith Corcoran has more for LighthouseNow.

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