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N.S. moves testing to western region of the province

YARMOUTH, N.S. -

Rapid COVID-19 testing is on the move in Nova Scotia. 

Monday's target was Yarmouth as that region is seeing cases climb.

"We do know Delta moves very easily, very quickly," infectious disease expert Dr. Lisa Barrett said.

Nearly 100 new cases have been reported since Friday and three more Nova Scotians have died.

Barrett calls the situation precarious.

"If we don't keep a lid on our cases, so to speak, and keep cases low, we will end up before Christmas running out of medication that we use to treat COVID patients with," Barrett said in an interview with CTV Atlantic.

The drug is also used to treat patients with arthritis. Drug manufacturer Roche Canada confirms supply for arthritis patients is secure but when used for COVID-19, it is facing a global supply shortage.

"We have about 25 doses of one of our main medications in this province and, because of worldwide shortages, we will not be getting any more expected until the New Year," Barrett said. "So we've used nine of those doses in the last week and a half are associated with one particular outbreak."

Barrett said Nova Scotians need to be more mindful of the size of the gatherings the types of gatherings that they have.

"One of the best places for COVID to spread as we head into this holiday time are indoor mass gatherings," Barrett said.

The best thing to do is to be vaccinated, but if you're not?

"Your second best thing to do if you are not vaccinated and have to be there is keep gathering sizes smaller and also take advantage of testing where you can."

Throughout the pandemic, epidemiologists say the hardest hit part of the province has always been the Central zone where Halifax is. 

But recently, that's changed.

"What we're seeing right now is that while cases are somewhat elevated in the Halifax area, they're much more so in the northern and western zones," said epidemiologist Kevin Wilson.

The northern zone is home to East Cumberland Lodge, a nursing home where two people in their 80s have died.

The outbreak is linked to what public health has called a "multi-day faith-based event" in late October.

"This would be about that seven-, 10- 12-day point where we would expect that if people had an infection at the end of October they may end up getting sick and end up in hospital as well."

Experts are encouraging people to get vaccinated.

The lowest rate of vaccination is in the western zone, which was where testing was today.

LONG-TERM CARE HOME DECLINES INTERVIEW

CTV News requested an interview with East Cumberland Lodge Monday afternoon but it was declined.

"At this time my staff and I are focusing our efforts on providing the utmost quality of care to our residents," Andrew Holland said.

Later, the facility posted an update on its Facebook page, expressing condolences for those who passed.

"This marks the first passing of COVID-positive residents in our facility," it read, "As an organization and as a community we feel this loss, we mourn for those who are touched by this and reaffirm our commitment to doing all we can to protect our most vulnerable."

Christal MacKinnon's father Ken Pollock is one of 28 residents of East Cumberland Lodge who currently has COVID-19.

She was shocked and saddened to hear two residents have passed away and is urging people to get vaccinated.

"My deepest condolences to the parties involved.  Thoughts and prayers for all staff and residents, and the community," said MacKinnon, "I plead with people to get the vaccine to protect all."

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