Nova Scotia reported 148 new active cases of COVID-19 on Saturday — the highest number of new daily cases since the start of the pandemic.
Nova Scotia Health labs conducted 16,578 tests on Friday, by far the highest number of tests conducted in a single day.
There were 129 cases in the central health zone, 17 in the eastern zone and two in the western zone.
Two of the cases in the central zone are residents of the Clarmar Residential Care Facility in Dartmouth and are related to a previous case at the facility. The province said Thursday that all residents have been fully vaccinated with two doses of vaccine.
Another case in the central zone is a staff member at Shoreham Village care facility in Chester.
Residents of that facility have been isolated as a precaution and all staff and residents are being tested. According to a news release, all residents had received both doses of COVID-19 vaccine.
Thirty people are in hospital with the virus, including five in intensive care.
Situation more serious than ever before
On Friday, Dr. Robert Strang, the province's chief medical officer of health, stressed the gravity of Nova Scotia's current outbreak. He said the situation is now more serious that at any other point during the pandemic.
Now is a critical time for people to stay home and follow all other public health restrictions, he said.
Strang also said Friday that the province had a backlog of 45,000 tests because of increased testing. They were awaiting processing and data entry.
He warned that some of those would be positive, leading to higher new case counts in the coming days.
"We need to be prepared for substantially higher case numbers over the next few days," he said.
Strang said he hoped the backlog would be cleared over the weekend.
According to posted provincial figures, one per cent of tests conducted Friday came back positive, the highest positivity rate since the last outbreak in November.
During the first wave of the pandemic last spring, when the province was doing fewer than 1,000 tests per day mostly on symptomatic people, the daily positivity rate hit a high of six per cent.
Change in testing eligibility
The province's testing strategy is temporarily changing so that primary assessment centres are open only to:
Anyone with symptoms.
Anyone who has been notified that they are a contact of a known case, even if they are asymptomatic.
Anyone who has been at a publicly listed exposure location, or has been directly notified by Public Health they have been to an exposure site. This includes anyone who is asymptomatic, and those classified as a low-risk exposure.
Anyone who has travelled outside Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador, even if they are asymptomatic.
Anyone who has been scheduled to undergo testing before surgery.
Asymptomatic testing for everyone else is still available at pop-up rapid testing sites.
As of this week, more than 30 per cent of eligible Nova Scotians have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
There are nearly 200,000 Nova Scotians between 40 and 54, and all of those new appointments were booked within hours on Friday.
New case in school
A case of COVID-19 case connected to Hants East Rural High School was identified on Saturday.
In a letter sent to families and guardians, principal Leanne Searle said Public Health is working to identify students and staff who may have been close contacts.
Searle said close contacts will be contacted and that Public Health is recommending that all students at the school be tested even if they are asymptomatic.
A notice sent later Saturday changed that position, saying all students and staff do not need to be tested, just those identified by Public Health.
The school will be cleaned this weekend. At-home learning will continue as scheduled next week.
Potential exposure sites
Nova Scotia Health issued a list of new potential exposure sites and flights Friday night.
Atlantic Canada case numbers
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