Nova Scotia reports 12 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, 'small outbreak' at Kentville hospital

Health officials in Nova Scotia are reporting 12 new cases of COVID-19 and 33 recoveries on Tuesday, as the number of active cases in the province drops to 187.

  • Eight new cases were identified in the province's Central zone.
  • Four new cases were identified in the province's Western zone.

Health officials say there is community spread in the Central zone, primarily among people aged 20 to 40 who are unvaccinated and participating in social activities.

The Nova Scotia Health Authority is also reporting a small outbreak at Valley Regional Hospital in Kentville.

According to the health authority, three patients in a non-COVID unit have tested positive for COVID-19. Two of the three cases are asymptomatic. One person is in intensive care.

“I know we’re all concerned when we hear about cases in our hospitals and our school. These are the places where we’re supposed to feel the most safe. But if COVID-19 is in our communities, it is going to find a way into these places as well. What’s important is that we take quick action to prevent further spread, and we are,” said Premier Tim Houston during Tuesday’s news update.

“We know none of us want to hear about COVID in our hospitals or our communities, but this is a reminder that COVID is still very real in Nova Scotia,” added Alyson Lamb, Executive Director of the NSHA Western Zone during Tuesday’s news update. “We wanted to share this information to be transparent about this evolving situation at our hospital, and we are committed to keeping the public informed as more information comes available.

As a precaution, NSHA is testing other patients and staff identified as close contacts. NSHA will provide a further update when more information is available.

Public Health says it is closely monitoring all four health zones for community spread.

"There are some pockets of COVID-19, but we are seeing moderate transmission that is not becoming widespread," said Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health. "We do need to expect to see some cases in places like schools, hospitals and other group settings. If COVID is in our communities, it is going to get into these settings."

EXPOSURE NOTICES FOR THREE N.S. SCHOOLS

Health officials also sent exposure notices for three schools in the province on Monday.

The latest school exposures are at Cumberland North Academy in Amherst, Oxford School in Halifax and Portland Estates Elementary in Dartmouth

“It is important to note that an exposure associated with a school does not mean there is spread within the school or that the initial case was first exposed to the virus in the school. As always, all staff, parents and guardians are notified of exposures if a positive case (student, teacher or staff) was at the school while infectious,” said N.S. Health in a release.

A list of schools with exposures is available online.

Three schools in the Halifax Regional Municipality have closed for the rest of the week in order to contain the spread of COVID-19.

In a release sent Monday afternoon, the province announced École Mer et Monde and Joseph Howe Elementary in Halifax will both be closed from Oct. 19 to Oct. 25, to prevent further spread of the virus among the school community.

Both schools will be learning from home, and testing will be available next weekend from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

In a release issued Sunday evening, Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health, recommended the closure of Dartmouth South Academy.

The P-8 school, located at 111 Prince Arthur Ave., will be closed to students from Oct. 18 to Oct. 22 to prevent further spread of the virus among the school community. The pre-primary centre, which is located on a separate site from the school, will remain open.

"While our goal is to keep students learning in the classroom, I was clear that if stronger measures were needed, like closing a school, we would not hesitate to act," said Dr. Strang. "The regional medical officer of health team has been closely monitoring this situation, and they are recommending a temporary closure to contain the spread."

But the President of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union says he would like to see more transparency about how many COVID cases in schools.

"When people don’t know what the real facts are, then social media drives all kinds of spin and misinformation these days,” says NSTU President Paul Wozney. “Public Health has this data, they could be transparent about it and they should be transparent about.”

Angela Khan has three children at Dartmouth South Academy.

She says she agrees with Public Health’s decision to temporarily close the school, but like many parents, she would like to have more information.

"Definitely knowing what their threshold, what their tipping point is would help, and if they could consider the arrangements that parents have to make when schools get closed, that would be helpful,” says Khan.

With the latest closures, four schools in the Halifax area have been temporarily closed in the last two weeks.

Duc d'Anville Elementary School in Halifax was closed for four days last week after 14 cases of novel coronavirus were linked to the school.

At Tuesday's news update, Strang pointed out that only 44 schools -- or about 10 per cent of the province's 370 public schools -- have had a COVID-19 case. Of those, only four have had to close to prevent further spread.

"The benefits of being in school continue to far outweigh the risks of disrupting school because of COVID-19," Strang said.

COVID-19 CASE DATA

Nova Scotia Health Authority's labs completed 2,152 tests on Monday. A total of 1,271,183 COVID-19 tests have been processed since the start of the pandemic.

According to the province's online COVID-19 dashboard, there have been 7,161 cumulative COVID-19 cases in Nova Scotia. Of those, 6,876 people have recovered and 98 have died due to COVID-19.

There are currently 14 people in hospital in Nova Scotia due to COVID-19, with one in an intensive care unit.

Since Aug. 1, there have been 1,265 positive COVID-19 cases and four deaths. Of the new cases since Aug. 1, 1,074 are now considered resolved.

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: 401 cases (16 active case)
  • Central zone: 5,533 cases (160 active cases)
  • Northern zone: 544 cases (9 active cases)
  • Eastern zone: 683 cases (2 active cases)

VACCINE UPDATE

The province's COVID-19 online dashboard provides an update on the number of vaccines that have been administered to date.

As of Monday, 1,550,362 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered. Of those, 749,078 Nova Scotians have received their second dose.

In total, 82.5 per cent of the province's overall population has received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, while 77.1 per cent of Nova Scotians have received their second dose.

The province says it has received a total of 1,661,340 doses of COVID-19 vaccine since Dec. 15.

All Nova Scotians are encouraged to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as they are eligible. COVID-19 vaccination appointments can be made online or by phone at 1-833-797-7772.

In an interview with CTV Atlantic anchor Steve Murphy on Tuesday, Strang, was asked to explain why people are still contracting COVID-19 if they have been vaccinated.

"They're very good at preventing infection," Strang said. "They're even better against preventing severe disease, but they're not 100 per cent (effective). So, when there's a lot of virus around or there's a big outbreak, and lots of being exposed, you are going to have some people -- despite getting being fully vaccinated -- getting infected."

Strang adds that in most cases, these COVID-19 patients also had underlying health factors.

"The ones who are ending up as the breakthrough cases, ending up with severe disease, and perhaps even dying, those are people who have underlying factors," Strang said. "So, that makes it likely that they're not going to respond as well to the vaccine in the first place based on age and or underlying health conditions."

Strang says the evidence is clear that vaccines are effective and people are safer if they get them.

"If you're unvaccinated, you're 36 times more likely to end up in an ICU and 12 times more likely to be infected," Strang said. "So, it shouldn't be interpreted that the vaccines don't work."

Nova Scotia's COVID-19 numbers are trending lower and the number of hospitalizations remains low and stable, but Strang says the pandemic is far from over.

"We're managing well, but we can't just relax now," Strang said. "If we do, we run the real risk of then creating that big outbreak, so we got a number of weeks to go yet the modeling which suggests that maybe would come out of the fourth wave by late November or early December."

You can watch the full interview here.

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
  • Headache
  • Shortness of breath
  • Runny nose/nasal congestion