Nova Scotia reported 689 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday.
There are 498 cases in the central zone, 79 cases in the northern zone, 57 cases in the western zone and 55 cases in the eastern zone.
Fourteen people are in hospital, including four in intensive care. The hospitalizations are up by four from yesterday.
The province reported an outbreak at Roseway Manor in Shelburne, N.S. Thursday. Two staff members have tested positive for COVID-19, but neither has had contact with residents. All staff at the facility are fully vaccinated, and 98 per cent of residents are fully vaccinated and have had a booster shot.
No new cases have been reported at locations of outbreaks at other long-term care facilities and health-care facilities, including:
Parkstone Enhanced Care in Halifax, where two residents and one staff member have tested positive.
Parkland Antigonish, where three residents and two staff members have tested positive.
Dartmouth General Hospital, where fewer than five patients have tested positive.
St. Martha's Regional Hospital in Antigonish., where the total number of cases is still less than five.
Halifax Infirmary site of the QEII Health Sciences Centre, where fewer than five patients have tested positive.
Changes to data reporting
The province's COVID-19 tracking website had been experiencing data delays for days but was back online Thursday.
As of Thursday, the province is changing how it reports COVID-19 data.
During most of the pandemic, data has been reported from Public Health's disease information system, called Panorama.
But since the case numbers started to rise earlier this month, the province instead started reporting the number of positive lab test results. Due to a backlog in entering data into Panorama, the province says releasing the number of positive lab test results more accurately reflects the reality.
However, lab test results can contain duplicate results in cases when someone is tested more than once, as may be the case if someone requires repeat lab tests in order to travel or before making changes in clinical management.
Starting Thursday, duplicate results will be removed from reported case numbers, so each case will only be counted the first time someone tests positive. From Monday to Friday, the duplicates will be removed, but on weekends and holidays, a small number of duplicates may be included. Those duplicates will be removed following weekends and holidays.
There will be no reports on Dec. 25 or Jan. 1.
The changes in reporting are expected to last four to six weeks, after which time the province will revert to using data from Panorama.
Nova Scotia: Daily new COVID-19 cases
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 health-care 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."
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.
More details about the changes to testing will be announced over the next couple of days, Strang said.
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.
The province added 11 more school exposures on Thursday:
West Kings District High School in Auburn.
G.R. Saunders Elementary School in Stellarton.
Winding River Consolidated School in Stewiacke.
Astral Drive Junior High in Cole Harbour.
Auburn Drive High in Westphal.
Basinview Drive Community School in Bedford.
Bay View High School in Upper Tantallon.
Dartmouth High in Dartmouth.
Dartmouth South Academy in Dartmouth.
Georges P. Vanier Junior High in Fall River.
Portland Estates Elementary in Dartmouth.
The province maintains a list of school exposures here.
Atlantic Canada case numbers
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