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A second person in Nova Scotia died from COVID-19 yesterday. She was a woman in her 90s with underlying medical conditions; she died in the Cape Breton Regional Hospital.
Dr. Robert Strang, the province’s chief medical officer of health, said that even though both the women who have died entered the Cape Breton Regional Hospital on the same day, the two cases are not related to each other.
Thirty-one new people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Nova Scotia, bringing the total to 373. Ten people are currently hospitalized, four of whom are in ICUs; 82 people have fully recovered.
The Halifax Examiner graphs the spread of the disease and the response to it, here.
Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, expects about 2.5% of Canadians infected with the coronavirus will end up in ICU and 1.1% of people infected with the coronavirus will die. She uses a range of 1% to 5% of the population being infected to get a sense of what will happen Canada-wide.
The projections specific to Nova Scotia have not been released yet. Strang was asked why that is, and answered that collecting and running the demographic data specific to Nova Scotia through the models is no easy task, and that a small province like Nova Scotia doesn’t have the staff needed to produce that modelling quickly. He did say, however, that the modelling would be released “in the near future.”
However, I took the numbers Tam announced today, and used the percentages she provided to run a quick calculation on what it would mean for Nova Scotia if those percentages hold here. (I am not an epidemiologist, so this is not intended to be anything other than a back-of-envelope calculation.)
Nova Scotia has a population of about 975,000. That population skews elderly, however, so what follows, using national projections, probably is on the low end of what would happen in NS.
If 5% of Nova Scotians become infected over the course of the pandemic, that’d be 48,750 people, with 1,316 people entering ICUs at some point (we have 120 ICU beds in 14 ICU units), and 536 people would die.
On the other hand, if 1% of Nova Scotians become infected over the course of the pandemic, that’s 9,750 people, with 263 people entering ICUs at some point, and 107 people would die.
The Nova Scotia Health Authority tells me that “With initial surging, we are planning for a total of 190–200 [ICU] beds (including the current 120) in additional care areas such as coronary care units (CCU) and cardiovascular intensive care units (CVICU).”
The above numbers are dependent on the restrictions effectively limiting the spread of the disease. Without the restrictions, the numbers could be higher.
But how long will the restrictions be in place?
When exactly the public health measures would be lifted wasn’t immediately clear, although Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reiterated at his daily briefing Thursday that efforts to keep case numbers down will take “months of continued, determined effort.”
“The initial peak — the top of the curve — may be in late spring, with the end of the first wave in the summer.”
The prime minister, citing Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr.Theresa Tam, said there would likely be “smaller outbreaks” for several months after that.
He said “this is the new normal” until a vaccine is developed.
Strang said today that he expects the first spike of COVID-19 cases in Nova Scotia in about three weeks, in late April, but there will be a second wave in the fall, and then a third wave in early 2021. He said the second and third waves won’t be as bad as the first. But, he said, the current restrictions will likely be in place until June, and after that the restrictions will be tightened and loosened as needed. He could not predict exactly what that meant.
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