Nova Scotia reports 611 new cases as province urges people to conserve rapid tests

·4 min read
While Nova Scotia originally encouraged people to use rapid tests before gatherings, the province is now asking people to conserve these resources. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press - image credit)
While Nova Scotia originally encouraged people to use rapid tests before gatherings, the province is now asking people to conserve these resources. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press - image credit)

While Nova Scotians have been encouraged to use rapid COVID-19 tests as a precautionary measure, the province is now asking people to use the available resources sparingly as the Omicron variant continues to drive a spike in case numbers.

The province announced 611 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday — the first day in over a week that Nova Scotia has not set a new record for daily case counts.

Of the new cases, 393 are in the central zone, 60 cases are in the eastern zone, 59 cases are in the northern zone and 99 cases are in the western zone.

Fifteen people are in hospital — up one from Thursday — and four are in the ICU.

There are an estimated 4,266 active cases. Provincial labs completed more than 8,897 tests Thursday.

The province said there is one new case at Parkstone Enhanced Care in Halifax. A total of two residents and two staff members have tested positive. No one related to the home is in hospital.

There are no changes in current hospital outbreaks.

In a news release Friday, the province said it is changing its approach to testing and how cases are managed due to the growing number of cases.

The province distributed more than a million rapid tests this month. But now, the rapid tests should be used only when people have symptoms or are identified as close contacts.

"Nobody should be using these precious resources every few days just to feel safe ... We need to use those resources wisely given the current epidemiology," said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health, in the release.

"For at least the next few weeks, everyone needs to limit socializing to their consistent group of 10, which includes their own household, so there shouldn't be a need for a lot of testing for social occasions."

Nova Scotia: Daily new COVID-19 cases

Strang said everyone who needs a COVID-19 test will still be able to get one.

Friday and over the Christmas weekend, people who have symptoms or who are considered a close contact will be able to book PCR tests if appointments are available in their area.

If not, they should use a rapid test, which are available at pop-up sites in the Halifax Regional Municipality. Other pop-up locations and public health mobile units will be available elsewhere in the province starting next week.

CBC
CBC

Changes to followups

The province also said Public Health will not be providing followup contact to some individuals who have tested positive.

Anyone who was tested between Dec. 15 and Dec. 21 will not receive a followup call and the notification they received confirming their result will be their only contact with Public Health.

If their symptoms get worse, they should call 811 or 911.

Most people will now receive their positive test result through an automated email. Anyone tested as of Dec. 21 can expect the following:

  1. An email from Public Health. People with a valid Nova Scotia health card will receive their result as well as additional instructions.

  2. A text message from Public Health. People with a cellphone will receive a text notification to confirm they have tested positive.

  3. A call from Public Health. Someone will call to collect and provide further information and support.

When people test positive on a rapid test, they need to notify Public Health.

They should email the following information to PublicHealthPOCT@nshealth.ca:

  • Their name.

  • Date of birth.

  • Health card number, if they have one.

  • Contact information.

They also need to follow the directions for people who test positive, which includes notifying close contacts.

New testing strategy

Starting Monday, people who are close contacts or have symptoms will need to complete the online self-assessment to find out which kind of test they need.

Most people will be directed to book an appointment to get a take-home rapid test from a testing centre.

Those eligible for a PCR test include people who:

  • Are at risk of severe disease.

  • Live or work in a congregate setting.

  • Essential to keeping the health-care system running.

Domestic travellers, rotational workers and specialized workers who are not fully vaccinated and require negative tests can also schedule a PCR.

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.

New COVID-19 case numbers will not be reported Christmas Day.

The province has renewed its state of emergency, which will take effect at noon on Sunday.

Coast guard ship deals with outbreak

The Canadian Coast Guard is reporting positive COVID-19 cases aboard CCGS Jean Goodwill, which is docked in Dartmouth.

Stephen Bornais, a spokesperson with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, said in an email Friday that impacted employees are isolating and rapid testing is ongoing.

No one has been hospitalized, and exact positive case numbers were not provided. For those who tested positive, Bornais said some are asymptomatic and others are experiencing mild to moderate symptoms.

The vessel is currently non-operational and access is restricted.

"When a vessel is removed from service, the Canadian Coast Guard will prioritize programs and utilize other vessels to ensure search and rescue coverage is maintained," Bornais said.

Atlantic Canada case numbers

MORE TOP STORIES

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