Nova Scotia

N.S. health worker COVID-19 numbers climb, some surgeries postponed

Numbers released Thursday by the Nova Scotia Health Authority show almost 800 workers were not at work due to testing positive for COVID-19, awaiting results of a test, or being exposed to a member of their household who tested positive.

Province's health authority reports significant increase in workers with COVID-19 or isolating

The number of Nova Scotia Health Authority workers off due to COVID-19 is continuing to climb rapidly, with almost 800 now unable to report to work. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

There has been a dramatic increase in the number of health-care workers who are unavailable to do their jobs since most COVID-19 restrictions were lifted in Nova Scotia on March 21.

Numbers released by the Nova Scotia Health Authority show almost 800 workers were not at work Thursday due to testing positive for COVID-19, awaiting results of a test, or being exposed to a member of their household who tested positive.

Some surgeries and other procedures had to be postponed this week.

"I know the Nova Scotia Health Authority is working very diligently to understand what the impacts are and they are very different in different places," said Nova Scotia Health Minister Michelle Thompson. "We continue to monitor the system and at the present time there are no widespread system changes."

On Monday, there were 553 health authority staff off, a jump of 141 from last week.

In just three days this week the numbers have spiralled upward to 786. That is the highest number off work since the health authority began tracking staff absences four months ago when the Omicron variant of the virus made its way into the province.

"I don't think we are unsurprised, I guess I would say, because we expected it with the restrictions lifting," said Thompson. "Also we know there were folks away over the March Break period so we expected to see some spike in cases."

The IWK Health Centre in Halifax reported 157 staff off work due to COVID-19. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

At the IWK Health Centre in Halifax the numbers are also rising. On Monday, 67 workers were off after being infected with COVID-19 and another 46 were off isolating, for a total of 113. That number has now climbed to 157.

"We continually monitor the number of staff and physicians off due to COVID and use multiple strategies to ensure staffing for services," said Dr. Annette Elliott Rose, vice-president of clinical care and chief nurse executive for the IWK.

"Although slight modifications to service levels may be needed at times, we do not anticipate widespread changes at this time."

In a statement, the health authority asked Nova Scotians to be kind, understanding, and patient as demands continue on health-care teams.

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