Nova Scotia reports record 394 COVID cases, as Halifax hospital delays some surgeries

·2 min read

HALIFAX — Nova Scotia health officials have slapped a university and its student union with fines totalling more than $23,000 for failing to comply with COVID-19 masking rules, as the provinces deals with record-breaking numbers of new infections.

Premier Tim Houston told reporters Friday that St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, N.S., and its student union have been issued two summary offence tickets each worth $11,622.50. The fines came just over a week after a COVID-19 outbreak occurred at the school, involving a graduation ceremony with thousands of attendees.

Meanwhile, health officials reported another record number of new daily COVID-19 infections, with 394 cases. That number was up from Thursday, when officials reported 287 cases — a record at the time.

"Nova Scotians: we're not used to high case numbers, and we don't like them," Houston told reporters. "But the reality is that the case numbers will continue to stay high."

Amid the surge of cases and new restrictions, Houston also announced a support program for small businesses that will include a one-time grant of up to $7,500. Eligible establishments include restaurants, bars, gyms and recreational facilities, Houston said, adding that applications will open in January. Eligible businesses will receive funding based on their payroll costs.

The bulk of the new infections reported Friday were in the central area of the province, which includes Halifax with 295 cases. Fifty-four cases were in the eastern zone, 27 cases were in the northern zone and 18 cases were in the western zone.

Chief medical officer Dr. Robert Strang told reporters that the real number of cases in the province is likely much higher, adding that the Omicron variant of the virus was driving transmission.

"We are past the point of full control of this variant. We need to change how we manage and respond," Strang said.

"We need to focus much more on severe illness and less on the overall numbers of cases and infections."

Officials said the recent surge of cases was causing delays in the province's contact tracing efforts and that the Health Department would try and contact anyone with a positive result within 24 hours of their test.

Seven people were in hospital with the disease, including two patients in intensive care.

Also Friday, a hospital in Halifax said it would begin postponing some non-urgent surgeries because staff members were isolating after being exposed to COVID-19. The Nova Scotia Health Authority said some surgeries at the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre will be delayed beginning Monday. It said the number of affected staff was increasing but didn't provide details.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 17, 2021.


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

The Canadian Press

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting