a man at a desk
Premier Tim Houston at the COVID briefing, Dec. 7, 2021. Photo: Communications Nova Scotia

Jump to sections in this article:
Overview of today’s cases
Vaccination
Demographics
Testing
Potential exposure advisories

Nova Scotia announced 22 new cases of COVID-19 today, Tuesday, Dec. 7.

By Nova Scotia Health zone, the new cases break down as:
• 18 Central
• 4 Northern
• 0 Eastern
• 0 Western

However, a “cluster” of an unknown number of cases was discovered at St. Francis Xavier University last night. At a COVID briefing today, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang said he did not yet have details on that cluster, but expected increasing case numbers associated with it will be reported tomorrow.

Premier Tim Houston said it is likely that the cluster is a result of unsanctioned social events surrounding the university’s ring ceremony on Friday. Houston said that an event organizers who didn’t follow Public Health protocols will be identified and fined.

Additionally, Strang acknowledged that over half or recent cases have been among children under 12. He said vaccinating children (see below) is the best way to reduce those numbers.

Possibly to address that situation, the Christmas break for schools has been lengthened by two days, with schools reopening on Jan. 6. Neither Houston nor Strang good explain why that change was made, saying simply that it was a decision made independently by the Department of Education.

Addressing the upcoming holiday season, Strang said people should reduce their holiday travel. The province is in a much better position than last Christmas, but he wants people to rethink travelling to Quebec or Ontario, which have relatively high case numbers. He didn’t explain how that advice squared with Houston’s recent trip to the United States, which has higher case numbers still.

There are now 147 known active cases in the province. Eleven people are in hospital with the disease, four of whom are in ICU. Twenty-seven people are considered newly recovered, which means they are no longer contagious and not necessarily that they aren’t sick.


Vaccination

There’s been an audit and recalculation of dose figures, so the single-day figures from yesterday don’t make any sense. I’ll return with them tomorrow, but I’ll now start additionally including the total number of doses administered throughout the vaccination program.

In total, there have been 1,657,071 doses of vaccine administered, which break down as:
• 40,772 people with only the first dose
• 765,416 people with the second dose but not the third
• 28,489 people with three doses

By end of day yesterday, 84.9% of the entire population (including young children) have received at least one dose of vaccine, and 81.7% have received at least two doses.

So far, about 29,000 children aged 5-11 have either received their first dose or scheduled their first dose. That’s about 45% of the age cohort population of about 65,000.

Strang today said Nova Scotia will follow the recent recommendations from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) for booster shots, including:

• expand eligibility for a booster dose to include people who are 60 and older and then work backward in descending age groups
• allow all frontline health care workers, including community providers like dentists and pharmacists, to schedule a booster dose regardless of the interval between their first two doses
•  increase the minimum interval between first and second doses from 28 days to eight weeks; any second dose appointments currently scheduled on a 28-day interval will be honoured.

Booster doses are administered at least 168 days after the primary series.

Strang said implementation details will be issued very soon, but in general, people over 50 years old will be able to schedule booster doses this month, while younger people will be able to schedule those shots in the new year. But again, with the exceptions noted above, six months must have passed since the second dose before a booster can be administered.

Vaccination appointments for people 5 years of age and older can be booked here.

People in rural areas who need transportation to a vaccination appointment should contact Rural Rides, which will get you there and back home for just $5. You need to book the ride 24 hours ahead of time.


Demographics

Because of an unexplained “technical issue,” demographic information is not available today.


Testing

Nova Scotia Health labs completed 2,783 PCR tests yesterday. This does not include the antigen tests administered at the pop-up testing sites.

You do not need a health card to get tested.

Pop-up testing (antigen testing) is for asymptomatic people over 16 who have not been to the potential COVID exposure sites (see map below); results usually within 20 minutes.

Strang today said that take-home test will be available throughout the province before the the holiday season, and that a second round of take-home tests for school-aged children will soon be made. Details are forthcoming.

Pop-up testing has been scheduled for the following sites:

Tuesday
Halifax Convention Centre, noon-7pm
Alderney Gate, 4pm-6pm

Wednesday
Halifax Convention Centre, noon-7pm
Alderney Gate, 10am-2pm

Thursday
Halifax Convention Centre, noon-7pm

Friday
Halifax Convention Centre, noon-7pm

Saturday
Halifax Convention Centre, noon-7pm
Alderney Gate, 10am-2pm

Sunday
Halifax Convention Centre, noon-7pm

You can volunteer to work at the pop-up testing sites here or here. No medical experience is necessary.

You can also get PCR testing at the Nova Scotia Health labs by going here. Appointments can be made for the IWK, or for various locations in each of the health zones (appointments may not be available at each site).


Potential exposure advisories

School-connected case notifications were issued yesterday for four schools since Friday:
• École Beaubassin
• Basinview Drive Community School
• Joseph Howe Elementary
• Tantallon Senior Elementary

Additionally, Nova Scotia Health issued several potential COVID exposure advisories over the weekend.

We’ve collected all the active advisories for potential COVID exposures on bus routes and flights here. I’ll be adding schools to the map tonight.

The updated potential COVID exposure advisory map is below; you can zoom in and click on the coronavirus icons to get information about each site.


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Tim Bousquet

Tim Bousquet is the editor and publisher of the Halifax Examiner. Twitter @Tim_Bousquet Mastodon

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  1. “Because of an unexplained “technical issue,” demographic information is not available today.”

    There was an Amazon Web Services outage.