Nova Scotia

N.S. reports 4 COVID-19 deaths on Friday; province to move away from daily updates

Nova Scotia is reporting four deaths related to COVID-19 on Friday. The province is moving to weekly reports on COVID-19 data with the next one expected on March 10.

Provincial state of emergency will end March 20

The province is once again recommending routine, asymptomatic use of rapid antigen tests for people at risk of severe illness from COVID-19 infection. (Robert Short/CBC)

Nova Scotia reported four deaths related to COVID-19 Friday in what is expected to be the last daily update from the province during the pandemic.

A man in his 50s and a man in his 80s in the northern zone have died, as well as a man in his 70s in the eastern zone and a man in his 80s in the western zone. The province has recorded 212 COVID-19 deaths overall.

Nova Scotia is moving away from daily updates as it approaches the second phase of reopening that begins Monday. Updates will now be weekly with the next one expected on March 10.

Phase 2 brings increases to gathering and capacity limits, among other changes. The third and final phase, when nearly all remaining restrictions are expected to be dropped, is set for March 21.

In a news release Friday, the province said the state of emergency will end at 11:59 p.m. Sunday, March 20, which ends nearly two years under its provisions. The final phase of reopening begins two minutes later at 12:01 a.m. March 21.

Hospitalizations

There are 45 people in designated COVID-19 hospital units Friday, including 13 in intensive care. The people in hospital range in age from five to 91 years old.

Of those in hospital:

  • 12 have had a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
  • 23 are fully vaccinated (two doses).
  • 1 is partially vaccinated.
  • 9 are unvaccinated.

As of March 3, about 7.9 per cent of Nova Scotia's population remained unvaccinated. The province said 92.1 per cent of Nova Scotians had received at least their first dose, and 86.8 per cent had received their second dose. 

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.

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 Mar. 4.

New cases reported

Nova Scotia Health labs completed 1,632 tests on Thursday and found 294 new lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19.

There are 117 cases in the central zone, 64 cases in the eastern zone, 43 cases in the northern zone and 70 cases in the western zone.

As of Friday, there are an estimated 2,650 active cases in the province.

Rapid testing more widely available

The use of rapid tests was restricted for much of the Omicron wave because of limitations on supplies, but the province announced Friday that it was once again recommending asymptomatic rapid testing in some circumstances.

People who are older or immunocompromised, and people who live with them or are around them, are encouraged to do occasional or regular rapid testing.

In a news release, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang said the change is part of an evolving testing strategy.

"Through the Omicron wave, rapid tests were used mainly to diagnose COVID-19 among close contacts and people with symptoms. We are now encouraging Nova Scotians to also use rapid tests as a way to help protect vulnerable people in our communities as we move toward a state of living with COVID-19," Strang said.

Amherst drops vaccination policy

Councillors in the Town of Amherst voted to repeal a mandatory vaccination policy on Friday. 

The policy, introduced in October, required employees, council members and people serving on town committees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. 

In a news release, Amherst Mayor David Kogon said it was the right time to drop the policy since the province dropped its vaccine passport policy earlier this week. The vaccine passport applied to non-essential activities. The province's mandatory vaccination policy for public sector workers is still in effect.

"In repealing the policy, we are once again following those provincial guidelines and practices, which I believe have been fair, consistent and served us well during this pandemic," Kogon said.

Halifax Regional Muncipality also lifted its mandatory vaccination policy last week.

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