HALIFAX -- Health officials in Nova Scotia are reporting 66 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, along with 18 recoveries, as the number of active cases in the province rises to 173.

“As people have seen, our case numbers have been increasing over the last few days. The fourth wave is hitting Atlantic Canada, and it’s having much more of an impact on those who are not vaccinated,” said Nova Scotia's Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Robert Strang, during Tuesday’s news update.

Of the 66 new cases, 61 were identified in the province's Northern zone. Fifty-nine are close contacts of previously reported cases and two are related to travel.

“There is a large cluster in the Northern zone in a well-defined, relatively closed, unvaccinated group. This group has a lot of interaction with one another, so we’re certainly expecting continuing cases in that community in days ahead,” said Strang. “We are closely monitoring this for signs of spread into the surrounding community, but fortunately there is no such spread at this time.”

In an interview with CTV Atlantic's Steve Murphy on Tuesday, Strang added the unvaccinated group in the Northern Zone involves people who have decided not to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

"Part of their worldview is that they have chosen collectively not to take advantage of COVID vaccination but now they're dealing with the implications," said Strang.

"I think the good news is that I thank them. They're working very cooperatively and collaborative with Public Health. Limiting the interaction between their community and others."

Five new cases on Tuesday were identified in the province's Central zone. Three are close contacts of previously reported cases and two are related to travel.

Health officials say there are signs of community spread among those in Central Zone aged 20 to 40 who are unvaccinated and participating in social activities.

“Along with the outbreak in Northern Nova Scotia, we are seeing some signs of community spread in Halifax. Most of these cases are among the unvaccinated, but we are seeing some breakthrough cases as well,” continued N.S. Health and Wellness Minister Michelle Thompson during Tuesday's news update.

Public Health says it is closely monitoring all four health zones for community spread.

PHASE 5 OF REOPENING DELAYED

N.S. health officials also announced Tuesday that the will delay moving the province into Phase 5 of its COVID-19 reopening plan until at least Oct. 4.

During Tuesday's update, Thompson said due to current epidemiology in the province and the Atlantic region, it is not the time to move into the final stage.

"We've been successful using our multi-layer and very successful approach. The best way to protect yourself, your family and your community is to get vaccinated,” said Thompson.

In an news release on Tuesday, Premier Tim Houston said all current restrictions will remain in place until at least Oct. 4.

“By then, we hope to have improved epidemiology of the virus and we will have surpassed our 75 per cent vaccination target. Our proof of full vaccination policy will also be finalized and implemented for activities like going to restaurants, gyms, movies, performances and events. This will allow us to safely lift the gathering limit and other restrictions," said Houston in the release.

COVID-19 CASE DATA

Nova Scotia Health Authority's labs completed 2,543 tests on Monday. A total of 1,156,621 COVID-19 tests have been processed since the start of the pandemic.

According to the province's online COVID-19 dashboard, there have been 6,254 cumulative COVID-19 cases in Nova Scotia. Of those, 5,987 people have recovered and 94 have died due to COVID-19.

There are currently four people in hospital in Nova Scotia due to COVID-19, with no one in an intensive care unit.

Since April 1, there have been 4,512 positive COVID-19 cases and 28 deaths. Of the new cases since April 1, 4,311 are now considered resolved.

There are cases confirmed across the province, but most have been identified in the Central zone, which contains the Halifax Regional Municipality.

The provincial government says cumulative cases by zone may change as data is updated in Panorama, the province’s electronic information system.

The numbers reflect where a person lives and not where their sample was collected.

  • Western zone: 317 cases (8 active case)
  • Central zone: 4,853 cases (60 active cases)
  • Northern zone: 439 cases (101 active cases)
  • Eastern zone: 645 cases (4 active cases)

The provincial state of emergency, which was first declared on March 22, 2020, has been extended to Sept. 19, 2021.

VACCINE UPDATE

The province's COVID-19 online dashboard provides an update on the number of vaccines that have been administered to date.

As of Tuesday, 1,471,980 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered.

In total, 78.8 per cent of the province's overall population has received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, while 72.7 per cent of Nova Scotians have received their second dose.

During Tuesday's news update, Dr. Robert Strang spoke directly to Nova Scotians who have chosen not to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

“Personal choice cannot be all you think about when it comes to COVID vaccines. I ask that you think of others, and think about the ‘we’, not the ‘me’," said Strang.

“The choice to be vaccinated or not has implications for everyone around you. We are experiencing a pandemic of the unvaccinated. Because of the risk of further spread, we’re having to slow down our reopening. That impacts directly people, families, the health care system, and our economy.”

The province says it has received a total of 1,661,340 doses of COVID-19 vaccine since Dec. 15.

All Nova Scotians are encouraged to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as they are eligible. COVID-19 vaccination appointments can be made online or by phone at 1-833-797-7772.

COVID ALERT APP

Canada’s COVID-19 Alert app is available in Nova Scotia.

The app, which can be downloaded through the Apple App Store or Google Play, notifies users if they may have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

LIST OF SYMPTOMS

Anyone who experiences a fever or new or worsening cough, or two or more of the following new or worsening symptoms, is encouraged to take an online test or call 811 to determine if they need to be tested for COVID-19:

  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Shortness of breath
  • Runny nose/nasal congestion