N.S. medical officer says asymptomatic testing has declined as case counts fall

·2 min read

HALIFAX — Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health is asking residents to make more use of the province's current COVID-19 testing capacity following a drop in asymptomatic testing.

“We encourage all Nova Scotians to consider making COVID-19 testing part of their ongoing personal COVID protocol, especially if you are someone with a high number of contacts, whether it's through the work that you do, or in your social circles,” Dr. Robert Strang said Wednesday.

The appeal comes after rates of asymptomatic testing dropped, he said, possibly because people in the province are no longer as concerned about the disease.

“It seems like people feel (since) we have very low case numbers, we don't need to be so worried. That couldn't be further from the truth,” he said.

Strang said the province's daily count of new cases has remained low since his last briefing on Friday, but the testing of people who are not showing symptoms is a key part of Nova Scotia’s COVID-19 plan.

Strang also said the province's first community clinic offering COVID-19 vaccines to residents will begin in late February. It will vaccinate people 80 and older and will act as a prototype for future community clinics.

Strang said the clinic will run from Feb. 22 until Feb. 25 at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax. Vaccinations will be by appointment only, he added. People living within an hour of the hospital will be randomly selected and sent letters next week outlining how to set up an appointment.

Nine more community-based clinics for those 80 and older are being planned for March in communities across the province. Eventually, more community clinics will be set up to offer vaccinations based on descending age groups in five-year blocks until everyone in the province has had a chance to get immunized.

As of Tuesday, 15,837 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Nova Scotia, 3,457 of which were second doses.

Strang said the province is also looking into planning vaccinations for "specific work sites", including large food processing facilities, where COVID-19 distancing protocols can’t be maintained. Further prototype clinics in pharmacies are also planned for early March and are expected to expand to more locations by early April.

The province announced one new case of the disease today, bringing the active case count to 11. Officials say the case was found in the province's central zone and is related to travel outside of Atlantic Canada.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 3, 2021.

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This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

The Canadian Press