Nova Scotia reports 3 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday; AstraZeneca vaccines to continue for ages 55-64
HALIFAX -- Nova Scotia health officials are reporting three new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday. Three previously reported cases are now considered recovered, as 24 active cases remain in the province.
One of Tuesday's new cases was identified in the Central Zone and is a close contact of a previously reported case. Another case is in Northern Zone and is currently under investigation. The other case is in Eastern Zone and is related to travel outside of Atlantic Canada. The person is self-isolating, as required.
“I’m very happy that our low case numbers mean that we can safely celebrate Passover, Easter and Ramadan. These are significant events that involve getting together and sharing meals with family and friends. Unfortunately they are not immune to COVID-19 and we must remember to keep our celebrations safe,” said Nova Scotia chief medical officer of health Dr. Robert Strang. “So please keep to your close social circles, be careful about shared food and drink, wash your hands often, wear your mask when you can’t be physically distanced, and most importantly, if you’re feeling unwell, please stay home.”
ASTRAZENECA VACCINE WILL CONTINUE FOR AGES 55-64
Nova Scotia announced Tuesday that they will continue to administer the AstraZeneca vaccine for individuals ages 55-64, after suspending the use of the vaccine for individuals under 55 on Monday.
“Anyone 55 or over can still get this vaccine if given the choice, as the benefits of getting the AstraZeneca vaccine outweigh the increased risk of COVID-19 in older adults,” said Strang.
On Monday, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommended pausing administration of the AstraZeneca vaccine to those under the age of 55, pending further investigation on reported cases of vaccine-induced prothrombotic immune thrombocytopenia (VIPIT), a rare blood clotting disorder, in Europe.
“In the past few weeks there has been an increasing number of reports from Europe of rare but serious cases of blood clots, following immunization with the AstraZeneca vaccine,” said Strang during Tuesday's news conference. “At this time a definitive link between the vaccine and the blood clotting vents has not been made, but it is very suggestive, the evidence to date.”
Strang says that he has had many conversations with Public Health officials from across the country, and the consensus is that the benefit of AstraZeneca outweighs the risk for those in the 55-64 age group.
“We know looking at the epidemiology of this it higher risk of blood clots seems to be mostly women under 55," said Strang. We’ve had a lot of conversation about this, and part of this is what is the risk/benefit. As you get to the ages 55 and above, it seems there is a much lower risk of this blood clotting happening, and the risk of getting serious outcomes from a COVID-19 infection substantially increases.”
“I know this might be scary for people, especially if they have had their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine already, but we’re fortunate that in Nova Scotia, our use of the AstraZeneca vaccine has been focused on the ages 60 to 64, which is well within the age range recommended for use.”
Strang says anyone who has received the AstraZeneca vaccine in the last 20 days, and anyone vaccinated with it going forward should monitor for symptoms and seek immediate medical attention in the unlikely event that they develop the following symptoms:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Leg swelling
- Persistent abdominal pain
- Sudden onset of severe or persistent headaches or blurred vision
- Skin bruising other than at the site of vaccination
N.S. COVID-19 CASE DATA
The Nova Scotia Health Authority’s labs completed 2,572 tests on Monday. The province has completed 422,073 tests since the pandemic began.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been 1,714 COVID-19 cases in Nova Scotia. Of those, 1,624 cases have recovered and 66 people have died due to the novel coronavirus.
There is currently one Nova Scotian in hospital due to COVID-19.
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: 106 cases (1 active case)
- Central Zone: 1,383 cases (20 active cases)
- Northern Zone: 133 cases (1 active cases)
- Eastern Zone: 92 cases (2 active cases)
The provincial state of emergency, which was first declared on March 22, 2020, has been extended to April 4, 2021.
Nova Scotia's COVID-19 online dashboard provides an update on the amount of vaccines that have been administered to date.
As of Tuesday, 94,373 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered. Of those, 69,271 were first doses and 25,102 Nova Scotians have received their second dose.
Of the vaccines administered 48,882 went to health care workers, and 8,971 were long-term care residents.
As of Tuesday, the province has received a total of 155,319 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, and are holding 36,250 in reserve for second doses and planned clinics.
Also during Tuesday's briefing Dr. Robert Strang said the suspension of AstraZeneca rollout isn't expected to impact the province's vaccine rollout at this time.
"We haven't got final confirmation yet about what exact amount of AstraZeneca we're getting. So we've always built our funding based on the major proportion of what we're getting will be the mRNA vaccine. If we aren't able to use AstraZeneca at all, that that may push out our timeline a bit. But right now where we were, we were the group that we're using AstraZeneca in we can, as the evidence right now says we can continue to use that vaccine in that age," said Strang.
NOVA SCOTIANS ENCOURAGED TO SEEK ASYMPTOMATIC TESTING
Public health is strongly encouraging Nova Scotians to seek asymptomatic COVID-19 testing, particularly if they have had several social interactions, even with their own social circle.
COVID-19 tests can be booked through the provinces online self-assessment COVID-19 tool, or by calling 811.
People can also visit one of Nova Scotia’s many rapid pop-up testing sites that continue to operate throughout the province.
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
- Shortness of breath
- Runny nose/nasal congestion