Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia reports 133 new COVID-19 cases Sunday

Nova Scotia is reporting 133 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, bringing the total number of active cases to 822.

34 people are in hospital, 6 in intensive care

According to posted provincial figures, 1.2 per cent of tests conducted Saturday came back positive. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

Nova Scotia is reporting 133 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, bringing the total number of active cases to 822.

There are 117 new cases in the central health zone, nine in the eastern zone, six in the western zone and one in the northern zone, according to a release from the Department of Health and Wellness.

There are now 34 people in hospital, including six in intensive care.

This is a major change for the province. There were eight people requiring intubation during the entire first wave of the pandemic, according to Dr. Sarah McMullen.

Dr. Sarah McMullen is an ICU physician in Halifax. She says if the current trend continues, the ICU could be full within a week. (CBC)

McMullen, an ICU physician in Halifax, said in an interview Sunday that the ICU where she works is at about half capacity.

"I think at the current rate it wouldn't shock me to see that we are full inside the four walls of our ICU within the next week to 10 days," McMullen said.

"That being said, we do have an expansion plan that we can enact, and is ready to enact. As soon as we need to house sick ICU patients in other parts of the hospital, we can do that."

McMullen said if it becomes necessary that other hospitals in the province can take ICU patients requiring intubation.

The release said there is community spread in the central zone, while the eastern, northern and western zones are continuing to be monitored.

"Thank you to all the Nova Scotians who are following the restrictions and doing their part to reduce the spread of the virus," Premier Iain Rankin said in the release.

"We can't get distracted by the case counts or feel disheartened by them — we've hunkered down before and stopped the spread, and we will do it again."

The new cases were identified among 15,832 tests that were completed Saturday.

According to posted provincial figures, 1.2 per cent of tests conducted Saturday came back positive. During the first wave of the pandemic, when the province was doing fewer than 1,000 tests per day, the daily positivity rate hit a high of six per cent.

Nova Scotia has been working through a backlog of about 45,000 unprocessed COVID-19 tests this weekend, which Dr. Robert Strang, the province's chief medical officer of health, warned was likely to yield higher case numbers.

Premier Iain Rankin and Dr. Robert Strang, the province's chief medical officer of health, reminded Nova Scotians that they must follow COVID-19 restrictions. (Communications Nova Scotia)

On Saturday, the province reported a record 148 new cases after conducting nearly 17,000 tests.

"I hope everyone is having a good weekend by staying home or getting a bit of fresh air with members of your household," Strang said in Sunday's release.

"I know it is tough to follow the restrictions, but Nova Scotians are known for doing what is needed, no matter how hard it is. Follow the restrictions, and we will get through this difficult period sooner."

Rankin and Strang have scheduled a COVID-19 update for Monday at 3 p.m.

As COVID-19 numbers continue to increase, there have been a series of potential exposure locations throughout Nova Scotia. A list of active exposures can be found here.

Testing strategy shifts

The backlog in tests had meant the province's testing strategy has temporarily changed to primary assessment centres are only open to:

  • People with symptoms.
  • Close contacts of confirmed cases.
  • People who visited an exposure location.
  • People scheduled undergo testing before surgery.
  • Individuals who have travelled outside Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Meanwhile, asymptomatic testing is still available at pop-up rapid testing sites in the harder hit areas of the province.

People may visit these sites if they have no COVID-19 symptoms, have not travelled outside Atlantic Canada in the last two weeks, haven't visited a potential exposure location and are not a close contact of someone who has tested positive.

Rapid testing is available on the specified dates and at the specified locations below:

Sunday, May 2

  • Cineplex Bridgewater at 349 Lahave St., Bridgewater, from noon-6 p.m
  • Alderney Gate Public Library at 60 Alderney Dr., Dartmouth, from noon-7 p.m
  • Halifax Central Library at 5440 Spring Garden Rd, Halifax, from noon-7 p.m.
  • Centre 200, 481 George St., Sydney, from noon-4 p.m. 
  • Halifax Convention Centre, Argyle Street entrance, from noon to 7 p.m
  • John Martin School at 7 Brule St., Dartmouth, from noon-6 p.m.

Monday, May 3

  • John Martin School at 7 Brule St., Dartmouth, from noon-7 p.m.
  • Cineplex Bridgewater at 349 Lahave St., Bridgewater, from 1-6 p.m
  • Centre 200 at 481 George St., Sydney, from 3-7 p.m.
  • Membertou Entertainment Centre at 11 Chief Ben Christmas Awti'j, Membertou. This site is available for walk-ins or by appointment, but does not offer rapid results. Open daily 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Recent school-related cases

On Saturday, Nova Scotia Health sent a notice to students and staff at Riverview High School in Sydney about a COVID-19 exposure at the school on April 21.

Those identified as close contacts have been asked to book an appointment at the primary assessment centre at Grand Lake Road. Public Health is expected to follow up with the individuals to provide more information.

People who have not been directly contacted by Public Health — but were at the school on the day of the exposure — are asked to visit a the pop-up testing site at Centre 200 in Sydney.

Staff and students who were at the school have been asked to avoid the Membertou Entertainment Centre for testing.

Last week, Public Health stopped providing a list of cases at each school to the public, due to an increase in testing, contact tracing and vaccinations. Now, only staff, parents and students are contacted when there is a case.

A list of affected schools can be found here.

On Saturday, one case was identified at New Germany Elementary School and two cases at New Germany Rural High School in Lunenburg County.  Another case was identified at Lawrencetown Education Centre in the Annapolis Valley.

Staff and students who have been contacted by Public Health are asked to get tested. Others have been asked to monitor for symptoms.

Students will continue to learn from home as all public schools in the province are currently closed due to the provincial lockdown.

Atlantic Canada case numbers

  • Newfoundland and Labrador reported 18 new cases Sunday, which includes 11 that were identified on a ship anchored in Conception Bay. There are now 51 active cases and three people in hospital related to the virus.
  • New Brunswick reported six new cases Sunday and one new death. There are now 137 active cases. Five people are in hospital with the virus, two in intensive care.
  • P.E.I. announced a new case on Sunday after announcing two on Friday. The province has 13 active cases with none in hospital.

With files from CBC News Network