Nova Scotia had another record-breaking number of COVID-19 cases on Wednesday with 537 positive test results.
In addition to the cases, a man in his 50s in the northern zone has died from COVID-19.
"I am saddened to hear about the loss of another Nova Scotian, so close to what is supposed to be a joyful time of year. I offer my deepest condolences to the family and friends grieving," Premier Tim Houston said in a statement.
There are 434 cases in central zone, 36 cases in eastern zone, 44 cases in northern zone and 23 cases in western zone. Ten people are in hospital, including three in intensive care.
It's not clear how many active cases there are because of a testing backlog. The province expects its COVID-19 tracking website, which has been experiencing data delays, to be back up and running by Thursday. Because of delays to Public Health's case management system, the number of positive cases being released Wednesday are lab results, not Panorama results. The province says this continues to "better reflect the situation on the ground."
Nova Scotia: Daily new COVID-19 cases
The province announced an outbreak at the Dartmouth General Hospital. So far, fewer than five patients have tested positive.
An additional patient at St. Martha's Regional Hospital in Antigonish has tested positive, but there are still fewer than five cases there.
There are no new cases to report at the Halifax Infirmary site of the QEII Health Sciences Centre where, so far, fewer than five patients tested positive.
An additional resident at Parkstone Enhanced Care in Halifax has tested positive. A total of two residents and one staff member at the facility have tested positive. No one is in hospital. Everyone at the facility had two shots of the vaccine and eligible residents received a booster shot.
Another resident at Parkland Antigonish, a seniors' living community, has also tested positive. A total of three residents and two staff members from the retirement home have tested positive. No one is in hospital. All staff and residents are fully vaccinated.
There are no new cases linked to Ocean View Continuing Care Centre in Eastern Passage. A total of three staff members have tested positive, but no one is in hospital. All staff and 97 per cent of residents are fully vaccinated. Eighty-six per cent of eligible residents have had a booster shot.
People who are 50 and older who have received their second COVID-19 vaccine dose at least six months ago are now eligible to get their booster shots.
Atlantic University Sport announced Wednesday it would pause all AUS competitions until at least Jan.19.
Mask fines issued
New Glasgow Regional Police fined two people $2,422 for failing to wear a mask in a public place on Wednesday.
The first incident was at reported at 8:30 a.m. at a business on Westville Road in New Glasgow.
The second incident was reported at the same business at 4:50 p.m.
The province announced changes to its testing strategy for COVID-19. Starting Dec. 27, lab-based PCR testing will be available to people who are symptomatic or a close contact, and one of the following:
At risk of severe disease.
Live or work in a congregate setting.
Essential to keeping the healthcare system running.
Most testing across the province is by appointment only at the moment and can be booked here.
There are also several rapid testing pop-up sites this week.
Nova Scotia Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang said Wednesday that people still have access to take-home testing kits at these sites but "certainly handing out test kits will be much more restricted in terms of who gets kits and how many."
Listen to Dr. Robert Strang's interview with Information Morning on Wednesday:
Strang also encouraged people who may have rapid test kits at home to share them with people who are symptomatic or who need a PCR test but can't get one.
"Even today, we're asking people, if you have rapid test kits, is to just not be using them to test yourself or your family every day or before you go out to social events," he told CBC Radio's Information Morning. "We need to have those test kits … much more focused on higher-risk situations."
More details about the changes to testing will be announced over the next couple of days, Strang said.
Two cases were reported Monday at the long-term care home Parkstone Enhanced Care in Clayton Park.
Three staff members at Ocean View Continuing Care Centre in Eastern Passage have tested positive for the virus. The province said Tuesday that no one is in hospital and 86 per cent of eligible residents have received a booster shot.
The province added 10 more school exposures on Wednesday:
Evangeline Middle School, New Minas.
Cape Smokey Elementary, Ingonish.
Rankin School of the Narrows, Iona.
McCulloch Education Centre, Pictou.
West Pictou Consolidated School, Pictou.
Five Bridges Junior High, Stillwater Lake.
Beaver Bank-Monarch Drive Elementary, Beaver Bank.
Portland Estates Elementary, Dartmouth.
Rockingstone Heights School, Halifax.
St. Andrews Consolidated School, St. Andrews.
The province maintains a list of school exposures here.
Atlantic Canada case numbers
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