Another patient in non-COVID unit tests positive at Halifax hospital

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Fifteen patients in a non-COVID unit at the Halifax Infirmary have now tested positive. (Paul Palmeter/CBC - image credit)
Fifteen patients in a non-COVID unit at the Halifax Infirmary have now tested positive. (Paul Palmeter/CBC - image credit)

Another patient who was originally in a non-COVID unit at a Halifax hospital has tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the number of patients involved in the outbreak to 15.

Dr. Brendan Carr, CEO of Nova Scotia Health, said Wednesday that 12 of those 15 patients from the original 36-bed unit remain in hospital.

A total of six employees who worked in the unit at the Halifax Infirmary site of the QEII Health Sciences Centre have also tested positive.

"We continue to investigate the source for this outbreak. There's nothing definitive yet," Carr told a news briefing.

As a precaution, the health authority is testing staff and doctors who have worked in the unit, as well as other patients throughout the Halifax Infirmary and Victoria General sites. Testing will also begin this week at the Dartmouth General Hospital, said Carr.

"We'll be testing all of our patients essentially at a point in time to ensure that we understand the true prevalence or how many people truly have COVID in hospital," he said.

He said the extra testing has not yet identified any new cases of COVID-19 outside the outbreak unit.

101 hospitalizations

There were 101 people in Nova Scotia hospitals with COVID-19 as of Wednesday, down slightly from 103 reported the day before.

Of those in hospital, 20 were in intensive care units. The median age of people hospitalized in the third wave is 57 for non-ICU, and 59 for people in ICU.

Carr said the QEII Health Sciences Centre has been under a lot pressure since about three-quarters of COVID-19 patients are at hospitals in the central zone.

To help manage that situation, Nova Scotia Health has so far transferred eight patients, COVID and non-COVID, to other health zones in the province, so the health system has enough capacity to keep ICUs and other areas of the hospitals running smoothly.

"We still expect to see more patients admitted to hospital with COVID in the third wave," said Carr.

Support, monitoring offered to those who test positive

He highlighted the work of the COVID-19 virtual care team, which has partnered with Emergency Health Services to contact Nova Scotians within hours of them getting a positive result to offer support and monitoring.

"It provides us with very important information regarding how people are doing in the community as we monitor them, and in fact it gives us a sense of how many patients may need hospitalization," Carr said.

He said the IWK Health Centre is running a parallel system for youth in Nova Scotia.

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