Nova Scotia

2 Nova Scotians die at home due to COVID-19 complications, province reports 153 new cases

Two Nova Scotians with COVID-19 died at home due to complications related to the virus, provincial officials said Tuesday. Both the people, a woman in her 50s and a man in his 70s, lived in the central zone, which includes the Halifax area.

Nova Scotia is about to begin its second week of a provincewide lockdown

Workers process tests during a rapid testing event at Dalhousie University. (Robert Short/CBC)

Two Nova Scotians with COVID-19 died at home due to complications related to the virus, provincial officials said Tuesday.

Both the people, a woman in her 50s and a man in his 70s, lived in the central zone, which includes the Halifax area.

Dr. Robert Strang, the province's chief medical officer of health, said in one of the cases, health officials only learned the person had contracted COVID-19 after they died. He did not say when the two people died.

"This is indeed a very sad day," Strang said at an afternoon briefing with Premier Iain Rankin.

The province is waiving any ambulance fees for people with the virus who need to get to hospital in an emergency."Do not struggle at home," Rankin said.

153 new cases Tuesday

There have now been 69 COVID-related deaths in Nova Scotia since the pandemic began, 53 of them at the Northwood long-term care home in Halifax last spring.

The province reported 153 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday. There are 139 cases in central zone, 10 in eastern zone, three in northern zone and one in western Zone.

There are 1,060 active cases in the province. Cases range in age from under 10 to over 90

Nova Scotia health authority labs completed 19,174 tests on Monday, the highest daily number yet.

At a COVID-19 briefing on Monday, Strang said the new daily cases are still somewhat skewed by a backlog in processing tests and entering data at the health authority's microbiology labs. On Tuesday, he said the backlog has been cleared. 

People line up for rapid testing at the convention centre in downtown Halifax. (Robert Short/CBC)

8 people in intensive care

There are currently 37 people with COVID-19 in hospital, including eight in intensive care.

Nova Scotia's intensive care units are treating more COVID-19 patients now than at any other point since the pandemic started, and the head of the provincial health authority has said hospitals are preparing to get busier yet.

Strang agreed the province is at a critical point. Not only are more people entering hospital with the virus, but patients with chronic issues are having surgeries delayed.

"We have a path, we're at a crossroads. We put things in place — now, what path we end up on actually depends on how people comply with that," Strang said.

While cases continue to remain high, Strang noted there's usually a two- to three-week delay before a spike in hospitalizations, ICU admissions and deaths.

He said the Nova Scotia health-care system is now planning for that and figuring out how to deal with any fallout.

Cases at New Germany Rural High

On Tuesday, a letter sent to the school community at New Germany Rural High in Lunenburg County advised all students and staff to immediately self-isolate and book a COVID-19 test.

Parents, staff and students were initially informed of a case at the school on May 1. Tuesday's letter from Public Health said more cases have been identified through the investigation.

The letter did not specify how many cases have been identified, only that there is ongoing transmission in the community that may be connected to the school.

A temporary testing site has been set up in the area at the Lunenburg Municipal Building in Bridgewater.

Restrictions likely to be extended

Current lockdown measures include the closure of all schools, and orders to not leave the municipality in which you live and, except in a few exceptional circumstances, to not gather with anyone outside your household.

Strang said officials will assess things next week, but it's a "safe assumption" restrictions will be extended.

Police have handed out dozens of fines, which now start at $2,000 per person, in just the past few days alone. Since the start of the pandemic last year nearly 800 tickets have been issued for violations of the Health Protection Act.

The health authority reported potential COVID-19 exposures at two Halifax-area locations on Tuesday evening, as well as on Halifax Transit buses and two flights. Visit the full list of exposures for more information.

Testing options

Lab testing guidelines were modified last week when the backlog was announced. Previously available to all Nova Scotians 16 and up, lab tests are now limited to: 

  • Anyone with symptoms.
  • Anyone who has been notified that they are a contact of a known case, even if they are asymptomatic.
  • Anyone who has been at a publicly listed exposure location, or has been directly notified by Public Health they have been to an exposure site. This includes anyone who is asymptomatic, and those classified as a low-risk exposure. 
  • Anyone who has travelled outside Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador, even if they are asymptomatic.
  • Anyone who has been scheduled to undergo testing before surgery.

Rapid testing is still available to everyone else at pop-up sites across the province. This week, rapid testing is scheduled in Halifax, Sydney, Bridgewater and Membertou.

Vaccine progress

As of Monday, 325,218 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Nova Scotia, including 36,687 second doses. That means about 33 per cent of the population has received at least one dose, and about 3.7 per cent have received both doses.

Vaccine eligibility is opening up by age and the province plans to open access to everyone 16 and up by the end of June, contingent on supply.

Currently, those 50 or older are eligible to book an appointment for Pfizer-BioNtech or Moderna vaccines.Those ages 40 to 64 are eligible for the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine.

Atlantic Canada case numbers

  • Newfoundland and Labrador reported four new COVID-19 cases Tuesday, at least three of them related to travel. There are still 56 active cases in the province.
  • New Brunswick reported four new cases Tuesday, and 850 people across the province in self-isolation. There are 141 active cases.
  • P.E.I. announced one new case Tuesday and the number of active cases has fallen to seven.

Corrections

  • This is a corrected story. A previous version incorrectly said people 50 and over qualify for any of the approved vaccines. Those 65+ are not eligible for the AstraZeneca shot.
    May 05, 2021 8:50 AM AT

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