Nova Scotia

N.S. reports 5 more deaths, 50 in hospital due to COVID-19

Thursday marked the first report since the province switched from daily to weekly COVID-19 data reporting.

First weekly update since moving from daily COVID-19 reports

There are currently 50 Nova Scotians in hospital due to COVID-19, according to the province's first report since moving from daily to weekly COVID data reporting.

The province is also reporting five more deaths due to COVID-19 since it issued its last daily update on March 4.

The new weekly reports do not include information on the age or health zone of those who died. Instead, the new report says the median age of those who died between March 2 and 8 was 79, and 23.8 per cent were partially vaccinated or unvaccinated.

The new report does not include the number of people in ICU, or how many PCR tests were administered. It does report that there were 1,382 positive PCR tests from March 5-8, an average of about 345 positive tests per day.

The average from March 1-4 was 323 positive tests per day. 

The next update will be March 17.

As of March 8, 86.9 per cent of Nova Scotians were fully vaccinated, 5.3 per cent were partially vaccinated and 7.8 per cent were unvaccinated.

Of those currently in hospital, 30 per cent are partially vaccinated or unvaccinated.

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 figure is based on average hospitalizations since the province started releasing daily hospitalization numbers by vaccine status on Jan. 4 up to March 7.

Unvaccinated people are about 4½ times as likely to die of COVID-19 during the Omicron wave as someone who is fully vaccinated and about 5½ times as likely to die as someone who has received a booster dose, based on numbers provided by the province and last updated on March 4.

Unvaccinated provincial employees to return to work

Beginning March 21, unvaccinated public service workers will be permitted to return to work. Provincial employees who refused to get vaccinated were placed on unpaid leave on Nov. 1.

Public Service Commission Minister Colton LeBlanc said Thursday that 84 employees will be eligible to return to work on March 21. More workers had initially refused vaccinations, but some eventually did get their COVID-19 shots and subsequently returned to work.

However, unvaccinated health-care workers are not among those who will be returning to their jobs.

Health Minister Michelle Thompson said there is no change in the mandatory vaccination policy for health-care workers and she does not anticipate a change before March 21, when Nova Scotia plans to move into Phase 3 of its reopening plan, which includes the removal of physical distancing and mask requirements in most settings.

Hospital system still at 100 per cent capacity

Thompson said 320 health-care workers were off work due to COVID-19 illness or exposure on Wednesday, and that the hospital system is still at 100 per cent capacity.

Although staffing and bed pressures remain in the system — particularly in the western zone — the province is looking for ways to reintroduce some hospital services and procedures when and where possible.

Thompson said surgeries will continue to be prioritized based on the need for admission, and elective procedures that do not require hospital admission will be able to be reintroduced more quickly.

Asked whether health-care workers will be able to take vacation now and in the summer months, after being asked to defer throughout much of the pandemic due to staffing shortages, Thompson said that issue is "top of mind."

"We have to look at operational requirements, there's no question about that," she said. "Wherever we're able to give people vacation and rest, we want to be able to do that."

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