Maritime provinces in different places as they try to control pandemic's fourth wave
When it comes to the ongoing fight against COVID-19, epidemiologist Kevin Wilson says each of the Maritime provinces is in a different place.
"P.E.I. is extremely stable and has kind of no evidence of community transmission which is great," said Wilson, who is based in Halifax. "Nova Scotia has kind of ongoing low levels of community transmission, the Halifax area and there's a small hospital cluster in Kentville. So, doing well at a low case but not as well as P.E.I. and New Brunswick is coming off of their largest ever epidemic."
Of the three Maritime provinces, New Brunswick currently has the highest number of COVID-19 cases. As of Oct. 26, there were 521 active cases. Nova Scotia has 134 active cases, while officials in Prince Edward Island are reporting just three active cases of infection.
New Brunswick also has the most hospitalizations in the region, with 40 people hospitalized and 19 of them in the ICU. There are 10 people hospitalized in Nova Scotia, one of which is in intensive care. No one is currently fighting the virus in hospital in P.E.I.
"Almost half of all of New Brunswick's deaths have happened so far in the month of October from the entire run of the pandemic," said Wilson.
He said things are improving in New Brunswick since the province put in circuit-breaker measures a week-and-a-half ago to curb the spread of the virus.
"Case numbers are coming down quite quickly, but the lagging indicators of hospitalizations, people in ICU beds and probably most noticeably deaths, deaths come after infections and so those are going to be elevated for a little while longer as those case numbers come down," said Wilson.
Both P.E.I. and New Brunswick dropped their mandatory masking requirements in July, only to reinstate them last month. Nova Scotia has not dropped its masking mandate since it was first implemented last summer.
Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, said Tuesday although COVID-19 case numbers fluctuate in the province, Nova Scotia is in a stable place.
"We still have to remain cautious. We're still in the middle of a fourth wave and it would be a mistake to relax and loosen things up too early," he said.
Strang said national models indicate Canada could be at or just past the peak of the fourth wave.
"I'm cautiously optimistic that as we get into 2022 we'll start to really be able to move more into this endemic phase," said Strang. "We're getting through the fourth wave, doing it quite safely and doing well in Nova Scotia but we need to, kind of, stick with the program, if you will, for the weeks to come."