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N.S. reports another COVID-19 death as Atlantic counterparts slowly ease measures

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — Nova Scotia reported another death at a Halifax nursing home Monday and 14 new cases of COVID-19 as other Atlantic provinces discussed the need to protect their borders while easing public health measures.

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — Nova Scotia reported another death at a Halifax nursing home Monday and 14 new cases of COVID-19 as other Atlantic provinces discussed the need to protect their borders while easing public health measures.

The death at the Northwood long-term care home is the 38th death from the illness in the province, and the Northwood outbreak has accounted for 32 of them.

The new COVID-19 cases announced Monday bring the provincial total to 985, including 638 people who have recovered.

"We have slowed the spread provincially, but we need to stay the course and continue to follow the public health protocols," Premier Stephen McNeil said in a news release.

Meanwhile, other provinces in the region have begun rolling out reopening plans as rates of new cases slow, but officials urged residents to remain vigilant.

All 118 patients diagnosed with COVID-19 in New Brunswick have recovered, as the province enters its third week without a new case. New Brunswick has reported no deaths related to the illness.

"This is a significant achievement matched by very few jurisdictions anywhere in the world at this stage in the global pandemic,"  Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health, said at a news conference.

Russell said New Brunswickers have earned the opportunity to begin renewing social connections and restarting the economy. She said good hand hygiene, physical distancing and wearing masks where appropriate will be important tools to living safely within the "new normal."

Russell also named border controls, such as self-isolation requirements for people entering the province, as a "critical" tool, given that jurisdictions bordering the province — including Nova Scotia and Quebec — have seen more significant outbreaks.

Premier Blaine Higgs said the government is looking at finalizing guidelines for businesses eager to reopen, suggesting more restrictions might be loosened soon.

Prince Edward Islanders enjoyed their first weekend with relaxed health measures, including outdoor gatherings of no more than five people. All people coming to P.E.I. are still required to isolate for 14 days.

As of Monday, 25 of P.E.I.'s 27 confirmed COVID-19 cases were resolved.

Premier Dennis King said he was pleased with Islanders' adherence to public health directives over the weekend. "It was great to see that we are off to a strong start and we just want to keep reaffirming the need for that to continue," he said.

Newfoundland and Labrador had its third day with no new reported cases on Monday. The provincial total held at 259, with 233 people recovered and three deaths.

The province has announced plans to move to a lower "alert level" in its COVID-19 response plan on May 11, lifting some restrictions on outdoor activities and businesses. It allowed households to form a "bubble" with one another starting last week.

Monday was the first day of a travel ban on entry to Newfoundland and Labrador. Only asymptomatic workers and permanent residents will be permitted to enter the province, along with people in extenuating circumstances approved by the chief medical officer of health in advance.

The duration of the travel ban, which applies to people with properties in Newfoundland and Labrador who reside elsewhere in Canada, will depend on provincial, national and international COVID-19 trends, according to Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, chief medical officer of health.

"If we're still seeing outbreaks elsewhere in the country, obviously we're going to be more cautious about lifting any such ban," Fitzgerald said.

Health Minister John Haggie warned that the health system could easily become overwhelmed if more clusters form quickly.

"Just as easily as we had to lock things down back in ... mid-March, we may find ourselves in that situation again. We just don't know and I would urge everyone to be cautious," he said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on May 4, 2020.

Holly McKenzie-Sutter, The Canadian Press

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