Nova Scotia reported 18 COVID-19 deaths in its latest weekly report released Thursday.
While the number of COVID-19 cases identified through PCR testing appears to be decreasing, data from May 2 to May 9 shows the third highest number of COVID deaths reported since the pandemic began.
In that same time period, there were also 3,118 new PCR-confirmed cases. The daily case average stands at 445 new cases, down from 488 a week ago and 777 the week before.
"We're seeing virus activity continue to slow down in Nova Scotia and that's great news, but the number of hospitalizations and deaths remains high," said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health, in a statement.
Nova Scotia: Weekly COVID-19 deaths
According to Nova Scotia Health, there are 44 Nova Scotians currently hospitalized due to COVID-19, including eight in ICU. Another 201 people tested positive when they were admitted to hospital for another health issue. A further 93 patients contracted COVID-19 after admission to the hospital.
Dr. Shelley Deeks, Nova Scotia's deputy chief medical officer of health, said in a teleconference Thursday this week's report shows association between age and severe outcomes.
The risk of hospitalization is about 10 times higher for those aged 70 and older compared to those 18 to 49, and the risk of death is more than 100 times higher compared to those under 50.
The number of COVID-19 cases linked to long-term care and residential care facilities is down this week.
"We are actually now starting to see the decline. So it does look like the peak has passed," Deeks said.
Nova Scotia: COVID-19 hospitalizations
The province is also reporting 32 new lab-confirmed cases of influenza A for the week ending May 7. Of those cases, more than 60 per cent were in people 19 and under. These 32 cases represent more than a quarter of all reported influenza infections during the 2021-22 flu season, according to Public Health.
"During the pandemic, we've had very little influenza being reported in the province and throughout the country," Deeks said. "Across Canada, we've seen an increase in influenza, predominantly influenza A, in the last few weeks, and that is true in Nova Scotia.
"It's unusual because we haven't seen any influenza, or very little influenza, in the past two years. But if you compare the number of influenza cases that we've had pre-pandemic, the numbers that we're seeing now are in line with pre-pandemic numbers."
Strang said the late-spring surge in other respiratory viruses happening in Nova Scotia and across the country is "all the more reason to keep our guard up."
Nova Scotia: Daily new COVID-19 cases
New booster recommendations coming
As of Thursday, 65.2 per cent of Nova Scotians 18 and older have received a booster dose and 41,584 people have received a fourth dose of vaccine, according to Nova Scotia Health.
Second booster doses are available to residents of long-term and residential care facilities, adults 70 and over, and members of First Nations communities who are 55 and older in Nova Scotia.
Deeks said the province expects new recommendations from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) for booster doses in the fall that "will likely address a broader age range than just the 70-plus."
Deeks said the 70-plus age range is being focused on because there is evidence of waning immunity, particularly in the 80-plus age group.
"For younger people, the vaccine effectiveness against severe outcomes is relatively strongly maintained," she said.
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