Nova Scotia reports 133 new cases of COVID-19 Sunday, active cases rise to 822

Nova Scotia is reporting 133 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, as the province works through its testing backlog.

In a release, N.S. health officials say 117 of Sunday's new cases are located in the province's Central zone.

Nine new cases were identified in the Eastern zone, six new cases are being reported in the Western zone, and one new case in the Northern zone.

"Thank you to all the Nova Scotians who are following the restrictions and doing their part to reduce the spread of the virus," said Premier Iain Rankin in a new release. "We can't get distracted by the case counts or feel disheartened by them - we've hunkered down before and stopped the spread, and we will do it again."

According to the release, the Nova Scotia Health Authority lab continues to experience a backlog due to the volume of testing in the province. There is also a delay in public health's case data entry into the province's online dashboard. 

"I hope everyone is having a good weekend by staying home or getting a bit of fresh air with members of your household," said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health in a news release. "I know it is tough to follow the restrictions, but Nova Scotians are known for doing what is needed, no matter how hard it is. Follow the restrictions, and we will get through this difficult period sooner."

The province is no longer including an "exposure category" (travel, close contact, etc.), citing increased investigations.

Health officials say there is evidence of community spread in Nova Scotia’s Central zone.

Public Health says the province’s other zones, Eastern, Northern, and Western, are being monitored for signs of community spread.

Twenty-four of Nova Scotia’s previously reported cases are now considered resolved, with the total number of active infections increasing to 822.

N.S. COVID-19 CASE DATA

Nova Scotia Health Authority labs completed 15,832 COVID-19 tests on Saturday. It marked the province's fifth consecutive day with over 12,000 tests completed, as a combined 73,646 tests have been completed since Tuesday.

Officials say Nova Scotia is testing more people per capita than anywhere else in the country.

"I think it just generally reflects that COVID is widely circulating in our community and it's important that everyone follows the rules,” says Todd Hatchette, Chief of Microbiology at Nova Scotia Health.

As of Friday, there were about 45,000 tests that needed to be processed. Hatchette says on Sunday there are 32,000 remaining tests that need to be processed.

"There will always be tests in the system that have to be tested and reported so there will always be a bit of a backlog,” says Hatchette. “How big that backlog is depends on how many tests we do. That day where we had 22,000 tests submitted in one day, that overwhelmed the capacity of the lab." 

As of May 2, Nova Scotia has completed 597,686 COVID-19 tests.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been 2,708 COVID-19 cases in Nova Scotia. Of those, 1,819 cases have recovered and 67 people have died due to the novel coronavirus.

There are currently 34 people in hospital due to COVID-19, six of which are in the intensive care unit.

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: 153 cases (24 active cases)
  • Central Zone: 2,209 cases (714 active cases)
  • Northern Zone: 156 cases (17 active cases)
  • Eastern Zone: 190 cases (67 active cases)

The provincial state of emergency, which was first declared on March 22, 2020, has been extended to May 16, 2021.

CHANGES TO ASYMPTOMATIC TESTING STRATEGY

In order to address the test result backlog, Nova Scotia is shifting their COVID-19 asymptomatic testing strategy.

In the interim, most Nova Scotians are encouraged to use pop-up testing sites instead of booking a COVID-19 lab test over the next few days.

Individuals under the following categories are still encouraged to book lab tests:

  • anyone with symptoms
  • anyone who has been notified that they are a close contact of a known case
  • anyone who has been at an exposure location
  • anyone who has travelled outside Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador

"Knowing the results in one day or five shouldn't really change a whole lot of what folks are doing right now,” says infectious disease specialist Dr. Lisa Barrett. “Masking, distance, hand wash and please just for the weekend, staying home is going to be so important and so helpful to us in getting through this without a complete meltdown of our health system as well as our lab system."

“This is a short-term issue, and we have a plan to clear up the backlog,” adds Rankin. “Following the restrictions and public health measures are critical to protect you, your loved ones and the health system from being overwhelmed.”

Public health says anyone who does not meet the above criteria and has already booked an appointment should cancel it following the instructions provided in their confirmation email.

"Efforts are being made to increase rapid testing capacity around the province," wrote the province in a release on Friday.

Pop up testing locations being provided on Saturday, include:

  • Cineplex Bridgewater (349 Lahave St., Bridgewater) - from noon to 6 p.m
  • Alderney Gate Public Library (60 Alderney Dr., Dartmouth) - from noon to 7 p.m
  • Halifax Central Library (5440 Spring Garden Rd, Halifax) - from noon to 7 p.m.
  • Centre 200 (481 George St, Sydney) - from noon to 4 p.m.
  • Halifax Convention Centre (Argyle St. entrance, 1650 Argyle St., Halifax) - from noon to 7 p.m
  • John Martin School (7 Brule St. Dartmouth) - from noon to 6 p.m.

VACCINE UPDATE

Nova Scotia's COVID-19 online dashboard provides an update on the amount of vaccines that have been administered to date.

As of Tuesday, 312,493 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered. According to the province, 30.1 per cent of the eligible population have received vaccines as of Thursday, with 4.2 per cent having received a second dose.

The province has received a total of 345,940 doses of COVID-19 vaccine since Dec. 15, 2020.

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