Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia projects 1,453-6,269 cases of COVID-19 by end of June

Nova Scotia health officials say the province could see anywhere from 1,453 to 6,269 cases of COVID-19 by June 30, depending on compliance with public health measures.

'We are flattening the curve, and I want to thank you for doing that,' says Premier Stephen McNeil

Nova Scotia chief medical officer of health Dr. Robert Strang said officials 'don't really want to get into modelling death rates.' (CBC)

Nova Scotia health officials say the province could see anywhere from 1,453 to 6,269 cases of COVID-19 by June 30, depending on compliance with public health measures.

The province released its epidemiological projections at Tuesday's coronavirus update, where chief medical officer of health Dr. Robert Strang said public health measures, to date, have likely nearly halved the number of cases.

"It's an indication of why we're doing what we're doing," said Strang.

Premier Stephen McNeil echoed those comments.

"We are flattening the curve, and I want to thank you for doing that," he said.

But McNeil cautioned that Nova Scotia has yet to reach the peak of the virus's curve, and he urged the public to continue following public health orders, including physically distancing and regular handwashing.

The modelling predicts that with good compliance with physical distancing, there could be 35 hospitalizations at the peak of the virus's curve, or 85 with poor compliance.

McNeil said the modelling numbers for poor compliance could put the province's health-care system in jeopardy.

"This is the one that keeps me up, this is the one that scares me. And it should scare you," he said.

In both scenarios, the modelling estimated about one-third of hospitalizations would require intensive care.

When peak case numbers will happen is unclear

The modelling did not include a timeline for the peak, and Strang said it was because "it's hard to really truly estimate that date."

The federal government released its own modelling last week, with health officials saying there could be anywhere from 11,000 to 22,000 deaths nationwide over the course of the pandemic.

A projected estimate for deaths in Nova Scotia was not provided.

Premier Stephen McNeil said the province’s health-care system could be put in jeopardy if people comply poorly with recommendations from public health. (CBC)

"We don't really want to get into modelling death rates," Strang said.

Also Tuesday, Nova Scotia announced 43 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the provincial total to 517.

The modelling estimated that if no public health measures had been introduced, there would have been 943 cases by now.

Main areas of concern

On Monday, the province's third death was reported as a man from the Halifax area who died due to complications from COVID-19.

Admiral Long Term Care Centre in Dartmouth, N.S., has confirmed the man was one of its residents, and that he had died in its COVID-19 isolation unit.

Strang said long-term care facilities and a group of communities east of Dartmouth, including North Preston, East Preston and Cherry Brook, are his main concern.

A chart presented during an April 14, 2020, news briefing showed the numbers of COVID-19 cases across the province in each community health network. (Province of Nova Scotia)

Of the 43 new cases announced Tuesday, 13 were at Northwood, a long-term care facility in Halifax, while 14 came from the communities mentioned east of Dartmouth.

Strang said two additional testing centres will open in the area east of Dartmouth, where there have been about 200 positive test results to date.

Restrictions in place for months to come

Strang said it would be May or June before he would consider relaxing public health measures.

He said he and other medical officers of health across the country have only started thinking about when and how to lift restrictions on gathering and movement, because they had been devoting their time to flattening the curve.

Strang said his estimated timeline would become "more refined" as the pandemic progresses.

If a second wave started to crest after lifting public health measures, Strang said he may have to enforce restrictions again.

Record numbers for testing

Tuesday's new cases mark the single-largest daily bump for the province. However, the QEII Health Sciences Centre's microbiology lab completed 1,476 Nova Scotia tests on Monday, which is the most tests it has done in a day.

Last week, Nova Scotia expanded testing by eliminating travel from the screening criteria.

On Tuesday, Strang said that "over time, we will end up testing a large percentage of the population." But when asked if the province intended to test all residents, regardless of symptoms, he said that approach had "all sorts of challenges."

Health Canada approved a new rapid COVID-19 test over the weekend, which Strang said was on its way to Nova Scotia but would not be "ready to go" upon arrival.

He said the test needed to be validated "in the real world and on the front lines."

16,755 negative COVID-19 tests

Confirmed cases range in age from under 10 to over 90.

There have now been 16,755 negative tests in Nova Scotia.

So far, 124 people have recovered from the virus.

Ten people remain in hospital due to the virus, with four in intensive care.

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