@Mellyfax prepares for her vaccination with an Examiner T-shirt

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Jump to sections in this article:
Overview
Vaccination
Everest
Demographics
Testing
Potential exposure advisories

Two men in their 60s have died from COVID-19. Both men lived in Nova Scotia Health’s Central Zone, and both died in hospital. They are the 86th and 87th people to die from the disease in Nova Scotia, and the 20th and 21st since April 1.

Additionally, Nova Scotia has announced 17 new cases of COVID-19 today (Wednesday, June 2).

Also, Nova Scotia is reporting its first case of the blood clotting condition known as vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT), which is a potential side effect of the AstraZeneca vaccine. The person suffering from VITT is a man in his 40s who received his first dose of the AstraZeneca in early May. He developed symptoms about two weeks after vaccination; he received treatment and is recovering.

Of today’s new cases, 12 are in Nova Scotia Health’s Central Zone — eight are close contacts of previously announced cases, two are travel related, and two are under investigation. Three of today’s new cases are in the Eastern Zone and all are close contacts. One case is in the Northern Zone and is related to travel. One case is in the Western Zone and is under investigation.

There are now 311 known active cases in the province; 38 people are in hospital with the disease, 15 of whom are in ICU; 72 more people are considered recovered today.

Click here to see Nova Scotia’s reopening plan.

Here are the daily new case numbers and the seven-day rolling averages (today at 24.6) since March 28, the last day Nova Scotia had zero new daily cases:

Here is the graph of daily new case numbers from the start of the pandemic in March 2020:

Here is the active caseload since March 28:

And here is the active caseload from the start of the pandemic in March 2020:


Vaccination

Yesterday, 5,283 doses of vaccine were administered. As of end of day yesterday, 594,708 doses of vaccine have been administered, including 43,776 second doses; 56.7% of the entire population has received at least one dose of vaccine.

The province places a chart on the COVID dashboard each Monday showing the percentages of each age cohort that has received at least one dose of vaccine. I haven’t placed that chart here as I had too many problems with it.

One, it showed 100% of the 70- to 75-year-old age cohort as being vaccinated, and I knew that simply wasn’t true.

And, it placed a vertical yellow line showing an aim of getting 75% of each cohort getting vaccinated, but I also knew that was incorrect; the goal was to get 85% of all those eligible to get the vaccine vaccinated so that 75% of the entire population would be vaccinated — those under 12 can’t be vaccinated. So that meant that the aim would be for 85% of each eligible age cohort to get vaccinated, not 75%.

I raised these concerns with the Department of Health yesterday, and I’m happy to report they responded positively. First, they explained that the percentage of each age cohort (like, for instance, the 70- to 75-year-old group could actually exceed 100% because it is based on population figures from the 2019 census, and the population has grown since then. Second, they agreed with my criticism of the vertical yellow line, and so have moved it to 85%. Here’s the revised graph:

As of Tuesday, June 1.

The younger age groups will be added to the graph as they get vaccinated in significant numbers.

At today’s COVID briefing, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang announced the province’s strategy for people who have gotten a first dose of AstraZeneca:

Strang: The National Advisory Committee on Immunization updated its guidance on the interchangeability of covid vaccines yesterday. The recommendations will give us much more flexibility with our vaccine program, and it will be based on choice and informed consent.

Those who got a first dose with Pfizer or Moderna can choose either vaccine for their second dose based on availability or preference, though the two mRNA vaccines are completely interchangeable. But given that our Moderna supply is uncertain and is going to be much less than the Pfizer vaccine, it is likely that you will be able to book a Pfizer vaccine before you will be able to book a Moderna vaccine. And at some point you may not have Moderna as a choice, but it’s perfectly fine to choose Pfizer if you’ve had Moderna for your first dose. We want you to choose the first mRNA vaccine that is available so that you are fully protected as soon as possible.

And for those who got a first dose of AstraZeneca vaccine, they’ll be able to receive a second dose of AstraZeneca, Moderna, or Pfizer vaccine.

For those who choose AstraZeneca as a second dose, there are two things that you should know. The first is that real world evidence is telling us that this vaccine is not as effective after first or second dose as the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines. There is some difference in effectiveness. And the second is that there is still a risk of VITT, even with a second dose. Right now, the cases are presenting at about one in every 600,000 people who get the AstraZeneca vaccine as a second dose. So if you’ve had AstraZeneca and you choose Pfizer or Moderna as a second dose, we also know that that mixing of vaccines can lead to a slight increase in minor side effects that are short lived, like fatigue, fever, pain at the injection site.

So we will make sure that Nova Scotian do have all this information that they need to make their choice as part of an informed consent process that goes along with getting any vaccine.

People 12 years old and older can book a vaccination appointment here.

People in rural areas who need transportation to a vaccine clinic 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.


Mt. Everest

Dentist Kevin Walsh of Falmouth on Mt. Everest with a Nova Scotian flag. Photo: Facebook

On March 14, 2020, the Public Health Agency of Canada advised travellers to avoid all non-essential travel outside of Canada.

That notice has been reflected in repeated provincial exhortations to avoid non-essential international travel, such as when former Premier Stephen McNeil castigated Nova Scotians for even thinking about travelling to the Caribbean for winter break.

More recently, Strang called out people who wanted to travel from Halifax to their cottages outside of HRM as “privileged.”

So it came as some surprise when this week we learned that Nova Scotia dentist Kevin Walsh had travelled all the way around the world, to Nepal, to climb Mt. Everest. As Cassidy Chisholm reported for the CBC:

Walsh said he considered the risk of COVID-19 before he left for Nepal at the end of March.

He had already had his first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and he felt comfortable with the safety protocols his guiding company had in place.

Temperatures were checked daily, masks were worn and his trekking team of 17 people didn’t socialize with other groups.

“We could have postponed to next year, but there was so much planning that had gone into it — the training, the timing, the time off work, arranging for people to fill in — that it just seemed like the right thing to do,” he said.

He said no one on his team was infected with COVID-19 while on the mountain.

That’s fortunate, because as the BBC reported on May 5, there was an outbreak of the disease on Everest:

Mountaineers and authorities at Everest base camp in Nepal have told the BBC they are seeing rising numbers of climbers with Covid-19 symptoms and rising numbers of positive tests, raising fears of a serious outbreak.

Base camp officials said they had received reports of 17 confirmed cases from hospitals in the capital Kathmandu, where a number of climbers have been sent from the base camp and higher camps to be treated.

And staff at a private hospital in Kathmandu, the CIWEC clinic, confirmed to the BBC that patients had tested positive for coronavirus after arriving from Everest base camp.

If a Haligonian going to visit their cottage on the North Shore is privileged, what are we to make of a Nova Scotian going to Nepal to climb Everest?

Well, if you’re Premier Iain Rankin, you congratulate the dentist. Here’s what Rankin said at today’s briefing:

Rankin: I wanted to let you know this morning I talked to Dr. Kevin Walsh, our Nova Scotia man who climbed to the top of the world reaching the summit of Mount Everest on May 23. When I spoke to him, [he said] he’s getting back to Canada later today. And, of course, we spoke about the climb and how proud he was to plant the Nova Scotia flag on the summit. I congratulated him on behalf of all Nova Scotia. What a great feat.

But you can’t have a conversation with anyone these days without talking about COVID. And Dr. Walsh has been following our plan and our numbers from Nepal. And so, Dr. Strang, Dr. Walsh wanted me to say hi to you. You two worked together on the oral health COVID response. And he told me that you were awesome, quote, awesome. And I agree.

Strang followed up with his own comments:

Strang: Thank you very much, Premier. And it’s nice to be recognized by somebody who’s as courageous as Dr. Walsh, climbing Everest.

I had a question. Specifically, this one:

Bousquet: I want to ask you about this fellow who climbed Mount Everest and your congratulation of him. This was international non-essential travel during a pandemic. And I’m wondering what kind of message that sends to the rest of Nova Scotians who are avoiding travel to see their grandmothers and such? And should we now just all assume that we can do international travel so long as we think it’s safe?

Strang: I don’t know any of the details about when he might have left the country. Probably preparing to go for Everest, you have to be there for quite a period of time. So I don’t know any of the details of when he might have left the country.

Translation: you people who aren’t rich dentists are just a bunch of suckers.


Demographics

The active cases across the province are distributed as follows:

Central Zone
• 123 in the Halifax Peninsula/Chebucto Community Health Network
• 45 in the Dartmouth/Southeastern Community Health Network
• 21 in the Bedford/Sackville Community Health Network
• 4 in the Eastern Shore/Musquodoboit Community Health Network
• 1 in the West Hants Community Health Network
• 19 not assigned to a Community Health Network
Total: 213

Eastern Zone
• 70 in the Cape Breton Community Health Network
• 1 in the Inverness, Victoria & Richmond Community Health Network
• 1 in the Antigonish & Guysborough Community Health Network
Total: 72

Northern Zone
• 8 in the Colchester/East Hants Community Health Network
• 5 in the Pictou Community Health Network
• 7 in the Cumberland Community Health Network
Total: 20

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


Testing

Nova Scotia Health labs completed 4,254 PCR tests yesterday. This does not include the antigen tests administered at the various 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. Pop-up testing has been scheduled for the following sites:

Wednesday
Alderney Gate Public Library, noon-7pm
Cole Harbour Place, noon-7pm
Halifax Central Library, noon-7pm
Halifax Convention Centre, 2-9pm
Centennial Arena, noon-7pm
Centre 200 (Sydney), 3pm-7pm

Thursday
Alderney Gate Public Library, noon-7pm
Cole Harbour Place, noon-7pm
Halifax Central Library, noon-7pm
Halifax Convention Centre, 2-9pm
Centennial Arena, noon-7pm
Centre 200 (Sydney), 3pm-7pm

Friday
Alderney Gate Public Library, noon-7pm
Cole Harbour Place, noon-7pm
Halifax Central Library, noon-7pm
Halifax Convention Centre, 2-9pm
Centennial Arena, noon-7pm
Centre 200 (Sydney), 3pm-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 listed below in each of the health zones (appointments may not be available at each site).

Central Zone
Bayers Lake (41 Washmill Lake Drive)
Burnside/Dartmouth Crossing (77 Finnian Row)
Canada Games Centre
Dartmouth General Hospital Drive-Thru (No Taxis)
Eastern Shore Memorial Hospital
Mayflower Curling Club
The Old School (Musquodoboit)
Saint Mary’s University (Homburg Centre)
Twin Oaks Memorial Hospital (Musquodoboit Harbour)
Zatzman Sportsplex

Northern Zone
Lloyd E. Matheson Centre (Elmsdale)
Colchester Legion Stadium (14 Lorne Street, Truro)
Truro (625 Abenaki Road, with drive-thru at 600 Abenaki Road)
Truro Farmers Market Drive-Thru testing
Amherst (34 Prince Arthur Street) — moving to Amherst Stadium on Monday
Pictou County Assessment Center (678 East River Rd, New Glasgow)

Eastern Zone
Antigonish Market Square
Buchanan Memorial Community Health Centre (Neils Harbour)
Eastern Memorial Hospital (Canso)
Grand Lake Road Fire Hall (Sydney)
Inverness Consolidated Memorial Hospital
Membertou Entertainment Centre
Northside General Hospital (North Sydney)
Sacred Heart Community Health Centre (Cheticamp)
Strait Richmond Hospital (Evanston)
Victoria County Memorial Hosptial (Baddeck)

Western Zone
Acadia Festival Theatre
Acadia University Club
Berwick Firehall
Digby Station (7 Birch Street)
Liverpool PAC (157 School Street)
Roseway Hospital (Shelburne)
South Shore Assessment Centre (215 Dominion Road, Bridgewater)
Yarmouth Mariners Centre
Yarmouth Visitor Information Centre (228 Main Street)


Potential exposure advisories

Public Health only issues potential exposure advisories when they think they may not have been able to contact all close contacts at that locale. The large majority of potential exposure sites never make it onto a public advisory.

Potential COVID exposure advisories were issued last night:

Anyone who worked at or visited the following location on the specified dates and times should visit covid-self-assessment.novascotia.ca/ to book a COVID-19 test, regardless of whether or not they have symptoms. You can also call 811 if you don’t have online access, or if you have other symptoms that concern you.

For the following location, if you do not have any symptoms of COVID-19 you do not need to self-isolate while you wait for your test result. If you have symptoms of COVID-19 you are required to self-isolate while you wait for your test result, as are the other members of your household.

  • Sobeys (1120 Queen St. Halifax) on:
    • May 28 between 8:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.
    • May 29 between 8:00 a.m. and 11:45 a.m.

It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named dates may develop symptoms up to, and including June 12.

The Queen Street Sobeys has multiple advisories, from other dates. I’ve collected all the active advisories for potential COVID exposures on bus routes and flights here.

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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