HALIFAX -- The Halifax Infirmary is home to the Central Zone's COVID-19 critical care unit but eight patients in the hospital's non-COVID unit have contracted the virus.

"Our infection prevention and control are now looking into that and trying to do contact tracing to see how that might have occurred," said Dr. Tom O'Leary, the medical director of critical care for Nova Scotia Health. "Those patients have been isolated."

Those patients are part of the 110 new cases reported Thursday:

  • 83 of them, in the Central Zone;
  • 6 in the Northern Zone;
  • 12 in the Eastern Zone; and,
  • 9 in the Western Zone.

There are currently 93 patients in hospital with COVID-19.

The province's top ICU doctor says the people being admitted range in age from their early 20s to late 60s.

"With wave three, we have seen people younger than would be expected in waves one or two," O'Leary said.

The growing number of hospitalizations has forced the province to activate their escalation plan to open more critical care beds.

Part of that plan is to transfer patients to other hospitals.

Fewer than five intensive care patients, some with COVID-19 and some without, have been transferred out of the Central Zone to ICUs in the Northern and Western Zones.

That transfer is happening either by ambulance or LifeFlight.

Kathi Nelson is used to hearing that helicopter. She's on the fifth floor at the Infirmary.

She says she contracted COVID-19 from her daughter.

Nelson had her first dose of vaccine 12 days prior to testing positive.

"I think I had enough vaccine to protect me some, because I have COPD and I didn’t end up on a ventilator," Nelson said.

Nelson's 27-year-old daughter had recently been feeling better, but took a turn for the worse and is now on a ventilator, three floors below her mother.

"She is sedated with full ventilation and they have her prone on her stomach to keep the pressure off of her lungs," Nelson said.

The average ICU stay for a patient requiring ventilation is around 10 days, then another 10 or more in recovery.

O'Leary says tracking models suggest hospitalizations and critical care admissions should peak next week then begin to slowly decline.

The other patients in the non-COVID unit at the Halifax infirmary have tested negative and are being monitored.

Nova Scotia Health Authority is also testing staff and doctors who have worked in that unit.