a brick building with a sign in front of it
St. Francis Xavier University

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

Nova Scotia announced 123 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, December 10, 2021.

By Nova Scotia Health zone, the new cases break down as:
• 56 Central
• 60 Eastern
• 6 Northern
• 1 Western

Most of the new cases are associated with the outbreak at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, which is in the Eastern Zone. At a press briefing Friday afternoon, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang said that most of the Central Zone cases are also associated with the StFX outbreak as they are students with home addresses in the Halifax area but who are attending the university, or people who visited Antigonish for the X-ring celebrations.

So far, there are 114 cases connected to the StFX outbreak, said Strang. He expects that number to increase in coming days, but he believes the outbreak has either already peaked or is about to peak.

Because of the large number of cases, Public Health is experiencing a backlog with collecting information and contact tracing. Strang said that all people who are testing positive are still notified within 24 hours, but the more detailed contact tracing is being prioritized for cases with no obvious source of transmission.

Strang used the example of five students living off campus in Antigonish, and two of them have tested positive. It’s clear what’s generally going on there, so further investigation will be delayed. But an unexpected case in Halifax will get more thorough investigation more quickly.

But because of that delay in contact tracing, there has been a change in policy. Now, if someone is fully vaccinated and is a close contact with a positive case or has been to an exposure site, they must self-isolate, book a PCR test for 72 hours after the exposure, and remain isolated until they receive a negative result. (Previously, fully vaccinated people did not have to self-isolate in these circumstances.)

Additionally, Public Health is requesting that people who have tested positive start notifying their close contacts on their own, calling up their friends and associates and letting them know, rather than waiting on Public Health nurses to make those calls.

Even with the large number of cases associated with the Antigonish outbreak, Strang had a somewhat upbeat prognosis:

We’re seeing the protective effect of vaccines. All the cases we have now are relatively mild illness — it’s a flu-like illness, not comfortable. A lot of kids are sick with fever, chills, malaise. But we’re not seeing any impact, people not having to go to emergency rooms, not having to be hospitalized. And I think that’s attributable to this being in a younger age group by and large, but also many, the majority of these people, are vaccinated, at least at least a single dose, many of them with two doses of vaccine.

That doesn’t mean the vaccines aren’t working. It shows the protective effect of the vaccines, especially against severe illness. And if we look at the hundreds, if not upwards of 2000 people who were exposed, the fact that we now have 115 cases actually shows you that there’s still a very good protection from the vaccine.

I asked Strang if any travel restrictions or other enhanced Public Health measures would be placed on the Antigonish area, as was done doing the outbreak centred around Halifax bars last year. He said that the vaccination situation does not make the two outbreaks comparable, so there are no restrictions in Antigonish beyond the requirement to self-isolate for three days for those exposed and a longer 14-day requirement to self-isolate for those who have tested positive.

The 14-day self-isolation requirement means that many students’ holiday travel plans will be disrupted, as they’ll have to stay in place in Antigonish.

Because of the the backlog in Public Health’s information gathering, the dashboard is somewhat behind the case numbers announced by the Department of Health. Given that variance, I don’t have a total active case count or number of recoveries.

Eight people are in hospital with the disease, three of whom are in ICU.

The graph above shows the weekly (Sat-Fri) number of new cases for the duration of the pandemic.

The graph below shows the number of people in hospital and in ICU on Fridays for the duration of the pandemic.


Vaccination

The Dept. of Health’s press releases’ account of vaccine doses administered has not been consistent and frankly doesn’t make any sense, so I’ll skip that data today.

The graph above shows the vaccination progress as captured on Fridays through the pandemic. The blue line is people with only one dose of vaccine; the green line is people with two doses; the gold line is people with at least one dose; the grey line is people with three doses; and the red line is 80% of the entire population.

Note: there was a mid-week correction in the number of second doses administered.

From Dec. 3- Dec. 9, there were 170 new cases of COVID. Of those:
• 60 were fully vaccinated (a rate of 7.6 per 100K fully vaccinated)
• 15 were partially vaccinated (a rate of 45.6 per 100K partially vaccinated)
• 95 were unvaccinated (a rate of 65.5 per 100K unvaccinated)

From Dec. 3- Dec. 9, 5 people were newly hospitalized. Of those:
• 1 was fully vaccinated (a rate of 0.1 per 100K fully vaccinated)
• 4 were unvaccinated (a rate of 2.8 per 100K unvaccinated)

Thankfully, from Dec. 3- Dec. 9 no one in Nova Scotia died from COVID.

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

As explained above, the provincial dashboard is somewhat behind the announcements made by the Department of Health. For that reason, on Friday the dashboard lists 60 (not 123) new cases. By age cohort, those new cases break down as:
• 11 aged 0-11
• 6 aged 12-19
• 37 aged 20-39
• 5 aged 40-59
• 0 aged 60-79
• 0 aged 80+
There is a case missing from that breakdown; I don’t know why.

The active cases across the province (as reported on the dashboard, not as announced) are distributed as follows:

Central Zone
• 81 in the Halifax Peninsula/Chebucto Community Health Network
• 18 in the Dartmouth/Southeastern Community Health Network
• 26 in the Bedford/Sackville Community Health Network
• 0 in the Eastern Shore/Musquodoboit Community Health Network
• 0 in the West Hants Community Health Network
• 18 not assigned to a Community Health Network
Total: 143

Eastern Zone
• 3 in the Cape Breton Community Health Network
• 1 in the Inverness, Victoria & Richmond Community Health Network
• 50 in the Antigonish & Guysborough Community Health Network
Total: 54

Northern Zone
• 16 in the Colchester/East Hants Community Health Network
• 6 in the Pictou Community Health Network
• 13 in the Cumberland Community Health Network
Total: 34

Western Zone
• 2 in the Annapolis and Kings Community Health Network
• 1 in the Lunenburg & Queens Community Health Network
• 3 in the Yarmouth, Shelburne & Digby Community Health Network
Total: 6


Testing

Nova Scotia Health labs completed 4,730 PCR tests Thursday. This does not include the antigen tests administered at the pop-up testing sites.

PCR testing is available this weekend at the Keating Centre on the StFX campus:
• Saturday, 11am to 5pm
• Sunday, from 11am to 4pm

There were 44,341 rapid tests administered between Dec. 3 and Dec. 9 — 2,091 tests at the pop-up sites; 42,250 through the workplace screening program; and 17,314 home rapid tests given away at the pop-up 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. Pop-up testing has been scheduled for the following sites:

Saturday
Halifax Convention Centre, noon-7pm
Alderney Gate, 10am-2pm
St. Margaret’s Centre, 1-8pm

Sunday
Halifax Convention Centre, noon-4pm
St. Margaret’s Centre, 11am-6pm

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 Thursday for four schools:
• Dr. John Hugh Gillis Regional High School, Antigonish
• Saint Andrew Junior School, Antigonish
• Chedabucto Education Centre/Guysborough Academy, Guysborough
• Tantallon Senior Elementary, Tantallon

Additionally, Nova Scotia Health has issued many potential COVID exposure advisories, especially in Antigonish..

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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