Nova Scotia hits 30 COVID-19 deaths this month
Nova Scotia reported that 13 people died from COVID-19 this week
Nova Scotia reported three new COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday, bringing to 30 the total number of deaths this month due to the virus.
The new deaths announced Wednesday include a woman in her 80s in central zone, a man in his 80s in the central zone and a man in his 90s in the eastern zone.
"We've suffered significant loss of life since our last COVID-19 briefing," Premier Tim Houston said.
Thirteen people have died from COVID-19 this week.
"While it's true most Nova Scotians who have died during this wave were primarily older with underlying health conditions, that doesn't mean we do not need to be cautious," Nova Scotia Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang said.
"Just the opposite. The elderly in our communities need to be valued and protected by the rest of us."
Strang said the reason there have been so many Omicron deaths when the variant has been described as mild is because of the extent of the spread. There are an estimated 4,353 active cases in the province right now, but that number only includes people who have had a positive PCR test, not rapid tests.
About seven per cent of Nova Scotians, or roughly 72,000 people, are eligible to get the vaccine but haven't yet. Strang said this group is being "disproportionately impacted by Omicron," representing 30 per cent of COVID-19 deaths since Dec. 8, and 21 per cent of hospitalizations.
Strang said current restrictions will remain in place until at least Feb. 14. The province is looking at lifting restrictions in a "phased approach," he said, and will keep monitoring cases and hospitalizations.
Houston said there is a path toward loosening COVID-19 restrictions, but not until next month. He said the province is looking at loosening restrictions for sports and arts and culture events some time in February.
The timeline is not dependant on government but it's dependant on the positive momentum of the booster campaign, the number of hospitalizations and overall stress on the health-care system, Houston said.
On Wednesday, the province reported 91 people in designated COVID-19 hospital units, including 15 in intensive care.
In total, there were 312 people in hospital with COVID-19:
- 91 hospitalized due to the virus.
- 100 identified as positive upon arrival, but were admitted for another medical reason, or were admitted for COVID-19 but no longer require specialized care.
- 121 who contracted COVID-19 while in hospital.
There are two children in hospital with COVID-19 but they were admitted for another reason, Houston said.
The average age of people in hospital is 67, a news release from the province said.
Currently, unvaccinated Nova Scotians are about four times more likely to be hospitalized due to COVID-19 than someone with two doses of vaccine. That is based on average hospitalizations since the province started releasing the daily hospitalization numbers by vaccine status on Jan. 4.
The vaccination status of those in hospital is:
- Eighteen (19.8 per cent) people have had a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
- Fifty-three (58.2 per cent) are fully vaccinated (two doses).
- Three (3.3 per cent) are partially vaccinated.
- Seventeen (18.7 per cent) are unvaccinated.
Less than 10 per cent of Nova Scotians are unvaccinated.
Cases trending downward
Strang said it appears Nova Scotia is past the peak for lab-confirmed cases.
"Things are starting to trend downwards," he said.
He said Nova Scotia is also likely within the peak of hospitalizations, but cautioned "we're not out of the wave yet."
Nova Scotia reported an additional 346 new lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 cases on Wednesday.
There are 164 cases in central zone, 56 cases in eastern zone, 35 cases in northern zone and 91 cases in western zone.
Vaccine clinics to close
Nova Scotia will begin winding down vaccine clinics. The clinics will close on the following dates:
- Jan. 27 — Amherst, Antigonish and Halifax.
- Jan. 28 — Berwick, Digby, New Glasgow, Truro, Sydney and Yarmouth.
- Feb. 4 — Dartmouth.
In a news release, the province said there will continue to be vaccine appointments across the province through the IWK Health Centre, pharmacies, family practices and collaborative care practices. Public Health outreach teams will continue to provide drop-in community clinics around the province.
Houston impressed with booster program
As of Tuesday, 255,000 booster shots have gone into arms in January and Houston said the province is on track to hit 296,000 boosters by the end of the month. With the pre-January boosters, Houston said this means around 485,000 Nova Scotians will have had a booster shot.
"This is absolutely incredible, this is a testament to those that got to work setting up the clinics," Houston said, commending health-care workers and people who got their third dose.
Strang said some people are eligible for a third dose and then a booster dose (fourth dose) if they come under the province's definition of "moderately or severely immunocompromised."
"You should have three doses for your primary series and you should still get a booster dose at least 168 days after your third dose," Strang said.
Houston said 66 per cent of children age five to 11 have had one dose of the vaccine. He said Nova Scotia is right behind Newfoundland and Labrador when it comes to vaccinating children.
Houston discouraged anyone from participating in a highway blockade planned for this weekend at the Nova Scotia-New Brunswick border in protest of COVID-19 restrictions.
"Don't do it, Nova Scotians have no patience for highway blockades," Houston said. "I have even less."
New rapid test distribution sites for northern zone
In a news release Wednesday, Nova Scotia's health authority said it would expand access to rapid testing in the northern health zone for those who qualify.
An appointment is required and anyone who wishes to pick up rapid tests must first complete the province's online assessment.
Appointments can be made for the following locations:
- North Cumberland Memorial Hospital — ED entrance at 260 Gulf Shore Rd., Pugwash. Sunday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
- Lillian Fraser Memorial Hospital — ED entrance at 110 Blair Ave., Tatamagouche. Sunday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
- All Saints Springhill Hospital — Main entrance at 10 Princess St., Springhill. Monday to Friday, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
- Bayview Memorial Health Centre — Main entrance at 3375 NS-209, Advocate Harbour. Monday to Friday, 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Atlantic Canada case numbers
- Prince Edward Island reported one death and 10 people in hospital on Tuesday, with two in ICU. There were 275 new cases, with 2,394 active cases.
- New Brunswick reported three more deaths and 138 hospitalizations Tuesday, including 11 ICU cases. There are currently 482 health-care workers who have tested positive for the virus and are isolating.
- Newfoundland and Labrador reported 20 people in hospital due to COVID-19 on Tuesday with five in ICU. There are 296 new cases and 2,688 active cases.