Nova Scotia

N.S. reports 46 in designated COVID-19 units on Thursday

Nova Scotia reported 46 people in designated COVID-19 hospital units on Thursday, including 12 in the ICU.

Age range of those in hospital is 0 to 96 years old, with a median age of 67

Premier Tim Houston said Wednesday that 'if everything stays on course' all restrictions, including mask mandates, would be lifted by March 21.  (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

Nova Scotia reported 46 people in designated COVID-19 hospital units on Thursday, including 12 in ICU. 

The age range of those in hospital is 0 to 96 years old, with a median age of 67, according to a news release. The average length of stay in the hospital is 6½ days.

The vaccination status of those in hospital is:

  • 13 (28.3 per cent) people have had a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
  • 22 (47.8 per cent) are fully vaccinated (two doses).
  • None are partially vaccinated.
  • 11 (23.9 per cent) are unvaccinated.

Only about 7.9 per cent of Nova Scotians remain unvaccinated. 

Premier Tim Houston said Wednesday that "if everything stays on course" all restrictions, including mask mandates, will be lifted by March 21. Houston said "COVID zero" is not a reality right now. He said "living with COVID" has to be our new reality.

Nova Scotia Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang said proof of vaccination for discretionary activities, such as going to the gym, restaurants, sports or arts and cultural events, will no longer be required as of Feb. 28, but it will still be required for a while longer in higher-risk settings like hospitals and long-term care homes.

Nova Scotia's three-phase opening plan. (Nova Scotia government)

No plan to allow unvaccinated health-care workers to return to work

On Thursday, Nova Scotia's health authority said there is no plan to allow health-care workers who refused vaccination to return to work when the province drops its vaccine passport requirement. 

In early December, the province placed more than 1,000 public sector workers who refused to adhere to the province's mandatory vaccination policy on leave. That included 323 Nova Scotia Health staff. 

"It's not new for people that work in health care to have to have a slate of vaccinations. I mean, this is this is something that's been around for a long time. You need to have certain certain vaccinations to work in health care," Houston said Thursday.

"These discussions are going on but my personal belief is that we will see the COVID vaccines added to the list of existing vaccines that you would need." 

Resumption of confirmation PCR testing for positive rapid tests

The province also announced Thursday that Nova Scotians who test positive for COVID-19 using a rapid test can once again confirm their results with a lab-based PCR test.

The health authority said its microbiology lab now has the capacity to resume the service thanks to a continued decline in COVID-19 cases in the province.

Modified Phase 2 starts March 7

On March 7, places like restaurants and bars, finance facilities and movie theatres will be able to operate at 75 per cent capacity with distancing "as much can be achieved with their specific physical space." This also applies to events like tournaments, competitions, faith gatherings and meetings.

The informal gathering limit will be 25 people indoors but increase to 50 outdoors.

Masks will still be required for indoor public spaces, but starting March 7 people will be able to remove their mask to eat and drink while in seats at the movies, concerts and sports events.

Masking at schools will be required until after the March Break holiday.

Unvaccinated Nova Scotians are about 5½ times more likely to be hospitalized due to COVID-19 than someone with two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. That is based on average hospitalizations since the province started releasing daily hospitalization numbers by vaccine status on Jan. 4.

Unvaccinated people are about 4½ times as likely to die of COVID-19 during the Omicron wave than someone who had received a booster dose, based on numbers provided by the province and last updated on Feb. 17.

On Wednesday, health authority labs completed 1,826 tests and an additional 187 new lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 are being reported. There are 65 new cases in central zone, 43 in eastern zone, 49 in northern zone and 30 in western zone.

As of Thursday, there are an estimated 1,903 active cases of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia.

As of  Wednesday, 92.1 per cent of Nova Scotians have received at least one dose of vaccine and 86.5 per cent have received their second dose.

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