N.S. extending COVID-19 restrictions for two weeks; three new deaths reported Wednesday
Premier Tim Houston said Nova Scotia is extending its current provincewide COVID-19 public health restrictions until Feb. 14 in an attempt to limit the spread of the virus.
Since the beginning of the Omicron wave on Dec. 8, 2021, Nova Scotia has reported 369 hospitalizations and 30 deaths related to the virus.
"We need these restrictions to continue a little longer while we continue to have high hospitalization numbers driven by the Omicron variant," said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health.
"By continuing to limit activities in our communities, we're helping limit the spread to protect our vulnerable populations, keep schools open and keep our healthcare system running. We'll continue to monitor closely and recognizing the importance of activities like sports, arts and culture to mental and physical health, we will open those activities sooner if possible."
According to the province's top doctor, Nova Scotia is currently experiencing its peak in hospitalization cases.
"But we're not out of this wave yet," said Strang. "The virus continues to have significant impacts on more vulnerable Nova Scotians and the impacts on the health system continue to be very significant. That's why we are extending current restrictions for two weeks."
Strang adds that keeping restrictions in place should give more time for cases to continue trending downwards, which will take some pressure off the health-care system.
"We are working on a plan now to start lifting restrictions in a phased approach," he said. "We'll be monitoring cases and hospitalizations closely and if things go well, we will start allowing larger gathering limits and the return to sporting events and games, arts and culture events and performances, and if it's possible to safely allow some things to start earlier than Feb. 14, we will."
"The goal that we're shooting towards, that we're working towards, is to relax some restrictions in the arts and culture and have sports teams be able to resume full practices, with no fans, around Feb. 7," said Houston. "And ultimately, recitals, competitions and games back by Feb. 14."
A full list of current restrictions can be found online.
THREE NEW DEATHS
Nova Scotia health officials reported three additional deaths related to COVID-19 on Wednesday.
Those deaths involve:
- a woman in her 80s in the Central Zone
- a man in his 80s in the Central Zone
- a man in his 90s in the Eastern Zone
"The Omicron strain continues to make many people quite sick and it lands some in hospital, and for some, unfortunately, it is deadly," said Strang. "While it's true that most Nova Scotians who died during this wave were primarily older people with underlying health conditions, that doesn't mean we do not need to be cautious."
Since Tuesday, public health says there have been 16 new hospital admissions due to COVID-19 and five discharges.
Currently, there are a total of 312 people in hospital with COVID-19.
Health officials say 91 of those in hospital were admitted due to COVID-19 and are receiving specialized care in a COVID-19 designated unit.
There are also two additional groups of people in hospital related to COVID-19, which include:
- 100 people who were identified as positive upon arrival at hospital but were admitted for another medical reason, or were admitted for COVID-19 but no longer require specialized care
- 121 people who contracted COVID-19 after being admitted to hospital
Of the 91 people admitted to hospital due to COVID-19:
- 15 are in intensive care
- the age range is from six to 100
- the average age is 67
- the average length of stay in hospital is 7.3 days
- 88 were admitted during the Omicron wave
The vaccination status of the 91 people admitted to hospital due to COVID-19 is as follows:
- 18 (19.8 per cent) people have had a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine
- 53 (58.2 per cent) are fully vaccinated (two doses)
- three (3.3 per cent) are partially vaccinated
- 17 (18.7 per cent) are unvaccinated
"It is important to note that less than 10 per cent of Nova Scotians are unvaccinated," reads a release from public health.
As of Tuesday, 2,064,132 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered.
Of those, 91 per cent of Nova Scotians have received their first dose, and 83.4 per cent have received their second dose.
Public health says 46.8 per cent of Nova Scotians 18 and older have received a booster dose, and seven per cent have booked a booster dose appointment.
Strang says about seven per cent, or about 72,000 people, who are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine have not yet received one or booked an appointment.
"This small group has been disproportionately impacted by Omicron, and that seven per cent account for 21 per cent of hospitalizations and 30 per cent of deaths since Dec. 8," said Strang.
Strang compared protecting yourself by getting a COVID-19 vaccine to taking precautions when riding a motorcycle.
"If you wear a good helmet and protective clothing, you can still get hurt if you crash, but you will be much less hurt than if you were wearing shorts and sandals," explained Strang. "Being vaccinated is like wearing protective gear. Wearing a mask and keeping your distance is like driving safely and following the rules of the road."
COMUNITY VACCINE CLINICS
By the end of January, public health in Nova Scotia says over 400,000 people will have received a booster dose.
Community clinics across the province will close by the end of next week due to lowering demand.
"These clinics were intended to be short-term and opened with a focus on administering booster doses to reduce the impact of the Omicron wave," reads a release from public health.
The clinics will close on the following dates:
- Jan. 27 - Amherst, Antigonish and Halifax
- Jan. 28 - Berwick, Digby, New Glasgow, Truro, Sydney and Yarmouth
- Feb. 4 - Dartmouth
Health officials say vaccine appointments are available across the province through the IWK Health Centre, pharmacies, family practices and collaborative care practices.
Public health outreach teams will continue to provide drop-in community clinics around the province.
CASES AND TESTING
On Tuesday, Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) labs completed 3,602 tests. An additional 346 new lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 are being reported.
The new case numbers by zone are as follows:
- 164 cases in Central Zone
- 56 cases in Eastern Zone
- 35 cases in Northern Zone
- 91 cases in Western Zone
As of Wednesday, there were an estimated 4,353 active cases of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia.
The province did not provide the number of recoveries on Wednesday.
LONG-TERM CARE OUTBREAKS
Nova Scotia Health (NSHA) is reporting three new COVID-19 outbreaks at hospitals.
Those outbreaks include:
- Halifax Infirmary site of the QEII Health Sciences Centre in Halifax
- Victoria General site of the QEII Health Sciences Centre in Halifax
- Digby General Hospital in Digby
The health authority says there are less than five patients at each facility who have tested positive.
NSHA is also reporting additional cases related to outbreaks at two hospitals, which include:
- one additional patient in a ward at Cape Breton Regional Hospital, where fewer than 10 patients have tested positive
- one additional patient in a ward at the Abbie J. Lane Memorial building of the QEII Health Sciences Centre, where fewer than 10 patients have tested positive
LIST OF SYMPTOMS
Anyone who experiences a new or worsening cough, or who has two or more of the following symptoms, needs to self-isolate and take an online COVID-19 self-assessment test, or call 811, to determine if they need to be tested for COVID-19:
- fever (chills, sweats)
- sore throat
- shortness of breath
- runny nose/nasal congestion
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