How Canada, Nova Scotia and Dalhousie responded to COVID-19

A timeline of the pandemic

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article was published as an infographic in Issue 1, Vol. 153 of the Dalhousie Gazette. This updated version has two more timeline dates.

  • Jan. 25: The first presumptive case of COVID-19 is reported in Canada. The 56-year-old man with the virus is put into isolation at a Toronto hospital after returning home from a three-month trip to Wuhan, China. 
  • March 8: A man dies in a Vancouver nursing home. He is Canada’s first COVID-19 death.
  • March 13: Dalhousie University cancels in-person classes for the week of March 16 to 20.
  • March 14: Dal confirms in an email to students that all in-person classes, labs and exams will not resume for the rest of the winter term.
  • March 15: Nova Scotia reports its first three COVID-19 cases.
  • March 19: All summer courses at Dal are switched to online instruction. Students are asked to leave residence by 11 a.m. the next day. (Exemptions are made for students in “extraordinary circumstances” and those who made travel plans for soon after March 20.) Dal also announces most campus buildings will be locked by the end of the week to those without access cards. In a separate email, Dal President Deep Saini tells students there is one presumptive COVID-19 case “connected with the Dalhousie community.” 
  • March 20: Canada surpasses 1,000 COVID-19 cases.
  • March 21: Canada and the United States officially close their shared border to non-essential travel.
  • March 22: Nova Scotia officially declares a state of emergency. Social gatherings are limited to five people. Provincial parks are closed to the public. 
  • March 26: Dal offers new grade options for the winter term. Students can have their letter grade changed to a GPA-neutral PASS or switch a failing grade to an ILL, which denotes “compassionate reasons, or illness.” 
  • April 2: COVID-19 claims more than 100 lives in Canada.
  • April 3: At a press conference, Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil tells citizens to “stay the blazes home.” 
  • April 5: A staff person at the Northwood long-term care facility in Halifax tests positive for COVID-19. 
  • April 7: First death connected to COVID-19 in Nova Scotia. Five residents test positive for COVID-19 at Northwood.   
  • April 15: Canada reports a total of 1,000 deaths from the virus.
  • April 17 and 18: Three residents die of COVID-19 at Northwood. Of the those who tested positive for the virus, 51 are residents and 39 are staff.
  • April 28: Canada confirms more than 50,000 COVID-19 cases.
  • May 1: Nova Scotia reopens provincial and municipal parks and trails. 
  • May 7: Nova Scotia reports more than 1,000 cases of COVID-19. 
  • May 12: Canada confirms more than 5,000 COVID-19 deaths.  
  • May 20: Dal announces classes for the upcoming fall term will be “predominately online.” 
  • May 27: In a memo to students, Dal announces a three per cent increase in tuition.  
  • May 29: After 75 consecutive days of new cases in the province, Nova Scotia records its first day of no new cases. Gatherings of up to 10 people are allowed, provided there is social distancing.  
  • June 5: Many businesses in Nova Scotia, including bars and restaurants, are allowed to reopen with social distancing measures. 
  • June 10: The last resident with COVID-19 at Northwood recovers. The outbreak at Northwood reached 345 cumulative cases – 246 were residents, 99 were staff. In total, 53 residents died. 
  • June 18: Nova Scotia allows groups of 10 or less to gather without social distancing. 
  • June 25: Dal announces libraries and gyms will be open to students in the fall with social distancing in place. Some residences and dining halls are also set to be open with limited capacity. 
  • July 3: The Atlantic bubble opens. Residents of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador can move freely across the four provinces without self-isolating for 14 days.
  • July 16: Dal launches its online teaching website: dal.ca/onlineteaching.   
  • July 31: Masks become mandatory for indoor public spaces in Nova
  • Scotia. 
  • Aug. 17: In an email to students, Dal announces a “significant majority of our courses will continue to be delivered online” in the winter semester. 
  • Aug. 20: Nova Scotia announces all post-secondary students entering the province from outside Atlantic Canada will be tested for COVID-19. 
  • Aug. 31: In an email to students, Dal says there is one probable COVID-19 case in the “student community living off-campus.”

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