Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia reports new high of 175 daily cases of COVID-19

Nova Scotia completed 11,506 COVID-19 tests on Tuesday and identified 175 new cases of the virus.

Province has 9 people in intensive care as a result of virus

Newsmaker - Dr. Lisa Barrett

1 year ago
Duration 8:15
Dr. Lisa Barrett discusses the latest increase in COVID-19 numbers and what the consequences could be if people don't take them seriously.

Nova Scotia reported 175 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday after provincial health labs conducted 11,506 tests the day before.

The majority of the new cases, 149, were in the central health zone, which has been identified as having community spread. 

There were 13 cases in the eastern zone, nine in the western zone and four in the northern zone. According to a release from the province, these areas are being monitored for signs of community spread. 

Nova Scotia now has 40 people in hospital, including nine in intensive care. 

There are 1,203 active cases of COVID-19 in the province. As of Wednesday, the positivity rate — the percentage of positive cases out of all tests conducted — is 2.2 per cent, according to provincial calculations. 

As of Wednesday, 334,775 vaccine doses had been administered, including 36,858 second doses. 

A technician places rapid COVID-19 swabs into a test tube container on Nov. 24, 2020 at Dalhousie University in Halifax (Robert Short/CBC)

'I'm worried,' says infectious disease expert

Infectious disease expert Dr. Lisa Barrett told CBC Nova Scotia News the "vast majority" of cases in hospital are related to variant strains of the virus, which are easier to transmit.

Barrett said the degree of severity of the coronavirus in the third wave is worse than in the previous wave. 

"Today we are looking after people in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50," she said.

"COVID is really kicking our butts at the moment and I'm worried."

Test backlog cleared

The release said a backlog of tests has been resolved and results are now being provided within 48-72 hours, but work is still being done to clear a backlog in case contact and data entry. 

Infectious disease specialist Dr. Lisa Barrett said most of the people in hospital had contracted a variant strain of the virus. (CBC)

According to the release, high testing volumes mean that people checking on their testing results via the COVID tests result phone line may experience delays of up to seven days. 

"That delay is reflected in the high numbers we're still seeing," said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health.

"The team is working hard and I expect data entry will catch up quickly. We should not take any comfort from this — even without a lag our numbers would still be too high. Nova Scotians need to stay the course and follow restrictions."

It is urging people who have been tested because of symptoms, or were told by public health to self-isolate pending results to self-isolate until they receive a negative test result. 

Close contacts of confirmed cases or those at high-risk exposure sites must continue to isolate for 14 days regardless of their test result. 

Asymptomatic testing reopened

Restrictions to the availability of asymptomatic testing that were announced during the backlog have ended.  Testing is now available again at primary assessment centres and appointments may be booked online

Anyone not showing symptoms is encouraged to visit one of the rapid testing pop-up sites. Sites will be available in Bridgewater, Dartmouth, Halifax and Sydney over the next three days. 

Restrictions may 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.

The Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation outlet on Mumford Road in Halifax is temporarily closed as staff are redeployed to the Joseph Howe Drive location that was the site of a recent COVID-19 exposure. (Craig Paisley/CBC)

At Tuesday's briefing, Strang said officials will assess the situation next week, but it's a "safe assumption" restrictions will be extended.

On Wednesday, Cape Breton Regional Police charged a 56-year-old man from New Waterford for violating the Health Protection Act. The man had entered Cape Breton from outside the Atlantic region and was not self-isolating as required. 

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.

Positive case in Amherst

A news release from the Town of Amherst on Wednesday said a town employee had tested positive for COVID-19.

Interim chief administrative officer Jason MacDonald said contact tracing is underway and potential contacts are being notified.

MacDonald said any employees who may have been exposed are being tested and required to self-isolate. Affected employees will receive time off with pay. 

Town employees who are not identified as being potentially exposed will work from home and continue to provide essential services, the release said.

Atlantic Canada case numbers

  • New Brunswick reported 11 new cases Wednesday for a total of 145 active cases. There are six people in hospital, two in intensive care.
  • Newfoundland and Labrador reported six new COVID-19 cases Wednesday. There are 58 active cases in the province. Two people are in hospital with the virus. 
  • P.E.I. announced one new case Tuesday and the number of active cases has fallen to seven.