Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang at the April 30, 2021 COVID briefing. Photo: Communications Nova Scotia

Jump to sections in this article:
Overview
Workplace spread
Demographics
Testing
Vaccination
Schools
Potential exposure advisories

Sixty-seven new cases of COVID-19 are announced in Nova Scotia today (Friday, April 30).

But the reported number of cases is not the actual number of cases. That’s because, despite processing a record 15,000 tests per day, there is a backlog of 45,000 tests in Nova Scotia Health’s labs. Additionally, there is a data entry delay that is slowing down reporting.

“The data entry backlog means today’s case numbers are in all likelihood much higher than the reportable number of 67,” said Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang. “We know there will be positive cases in this backlog and we need to be prepared for substantially higher case numbers over the next few days, as the lab and public health are working now to clear the backlogs.”

(See how the backlog in testing has affected the province’s testing strategy in the Testing section below.)

But of the new cases that were reported, 57 are in Nova Scotia Health’s Central Zone, three are in the Eastern Zone, four are in the Northern Zone, and four are in the Western Zone.

Because the numbers are so large, Public Health is no longer able to provide the cause of cases (i.e., travel related, close contacts, etc.) by the time the release comes out.

There are now 589 known active cases in the province. Twenty-two people are in hospital with the disease, and five of those are in ICU.

“We fully expect we’re going to see more hospitalizations and more ICU admissions in the [next] week to two weeks,” said Strang. “There’s always a time lag.”

Here are the daily new case numbers and seven-day rolling averages (today at 69.9) since the start of the second wave (Oct. 1):

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

Here is the active caseload for the second wave:

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


Workplace spread

Strang also upbraided employers for not letting their employees work from home, and implied that such employers are in part responsible for helping the virus spread.

We’re hearing in public health, we’re hearing [about] clusters and outbreaks in workplaces where employees [were], and employees could work from home,” said Strang. “But employees are still being required to be at [the workplace]*. So we need employers wherever possible, allow your employees to work from home for the next short period of time.”

Strang did not name any specific workplaces.

* Strang said “employees are still being required to be at home.” But it’s clear from the context that he misspoke, and meant to say that “employees are still being required to be at the workplace.”


Demographics

Today’s reported 67 cases are in the following demographics:
• 14 aged 19 or younger (7 girls or women, 7 boys or men)
• 24 aged 20-39 (11 women, 13 men)
• 22 aged 40-59 (11 women, 11 men)
• 7 aged 60-79 (4 women, 3 men)
• 0 aged 80 or over

Strang today presented the following slide with different age cohorts to show the ages of people with active cases of the disease:

I should note that the graph above is somewhat misleading, in that people under 30 are grouped into two age cohorts of 15 years each, while older people are grouped into age cohorts of 10 years each. This makes the bars for the younger people appear higher than they would be (compared to the older groups) had the same age-grouping been used. Additionally, simply showing the number of cases in each age group doesn’t fully get at the info trying to be relayed — which is the extent of spread. A better measurement would have been cases per 100,000 in each demographic, with equal sized age cohorts.

The active cases are distributed as follows:

• 170 in the Halifax Peninsula/Chebucto Community Health Network in the Central Zone
• 235 in the Dartmouth/Southeastern Community Health Network in the Central Zone
• 37 in the Bedford/Sackville Community Health Network in the Central Zone
• 11 in the Eastern Shore/Musquodoboit Community Health Network in the Central Zone
• 4 is in the West Hants Community Health Network in the Central Zone
• 42 in the Cape Breton Community Health Network in the Eastern Zone
• 4 in the Inverness, Victoria & Richmond Community Health Network in the Eastern Zone
• 10 in the Colchester/East Hants Community Health Network in the Northern Zone
• 8 in the Pictou Community Health Network in the Northern Zone
• 6 in the Annapolis and Kings Community Health Network in the Western Zone
• 5 in the Lunenburg & Queens Community Health Network in the Western Zone
• 5 in the Yarmouth, Shelburne & Digby Community Health Network in the Western Zone

Fifty-two cases are not assigned to a Community Health Network, but they are in the Central Zone.


Testing

The backlog in testing and data entry is a “short-term issue,” said Premier Iain Rankin in a press release. To deal with it, there has been a “shift” in testing strategy, such that for the next few days, the only people who should be booking PCR tests are the following:

  • anyone with symptoms
  • anyone who has been notified that they are a close contact of a known case
  • anyone who has been at an exposure location
  • anyone who has travelled outside Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Strang said today if people who are not in the above categories have a PCR test booked, they should either cancel it or simply not show up for it. Everyone not in those categories should instead go to a rapid-testing pop-up site.

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:

Friday
Centre 200, 481 George St, Sydney, 11am-7pm
Alderney Gate Public Library, noon-7pm
Halifax Convention Centre, noon-7pm
Cineplex Bridgewater, noon-7pm
East Dartmouth Community Centre, noon-7pm

Saturday
Cineplex Bridgewater, noon-7pm
Centre 200, 481 George St, Sydney, 110m-4pm
East Dartmouth Community Centre, 9:30am-4:30pm
Alderney Gate Public Library, noon-7pm
Halifax Convention Centre, noon-7pm

Sunday
Alderney Gate Public Library, noon-7pm
Halifax Convention Centre, noon-7pm
Cineplex Bridgewater, noon-6pm
John Martin School (Dartmouth), noon-6pm

Monday
John Martin School (Dartmouth), noon-7pm

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

Those who fall into the categories that require PCR testing can get tests at  the Public Health Mobile Units or the Nova Scotia Health labs.

Public Health Mobile Units are available only for pre-booked appointments for PCR tests for people of all ages (results within three days). The units have the following schedule:

Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre (606 Reeves St.)
Saturday, 10am-4pm

Knights of Columbus (3236 Plummer Ave., New Waterford)
Monday, 10am-6pm
Tuesday, 10am-6pm

Lake Echo Baptist Church (17 Peter Ct, Mineville)
Saturday, 9:30am-5pm
Sunday, 9:30am-5pm

Cole Harbour Place
Saturday, 9:30am-5pm

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 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
Musquodoboit Valley Memorial Hospital
Saint Mary’s University (Homburg Centre)
Twin Oaks Memorial Hospital (Musquodoboit Harbour)
Zatzman Sportsplex

Northern Zone
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)
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)


Vaccination

Yesterday, 8,306 doses of vaccine were administered. So far, a total of 312,493 doses have been administered.

Strang presented the slide above today, showing the percentage of each five-year age cohort that has been vaccinated. The slide doesn’t say, but it appears the dark grey portion of each bar represents the first dose of vaccine, and the blue portion represents the second dose.

The goal is for 75% of the population to get vaccinated, and so it’s good news that the older age cohorts are exceeding that level. Those age cohorts were the first vaccinated, and mass vaccination for those in the 55-59 and 60-64 age groups only started recently, so those percentages will likely soon rise as people start attending their booked appointments.

Strang also presented the slide above, which shows that the province is mostly meeting or slightly exceeding the vaccination schedule it announced in early March. The plan is to make the vaccine available to anyone over 16 who wants it by mid-June.

“We are about six weeks away from everyone being able to book an appointment to get their first dose,” said Strang. “Forty-year-olds will be able to book in just a few weeks, 20-year-olds by the beginning of June. I know that our current situation has people scared and everyone wants a vaccine. Many groups want to be prioritized, [but] we made a decision early on that the race to population immunity was a priority and that focusing on age was the fastest, most efficient way to do that.

“We built an equitable, reliable, flexible vaccine program while waiting for our supply to increase from the federal government,” continued Strang. “We got good and now we are getting fast. We are now outpacing others as the fastest vaccinating province in the country. But we have to stay with the age-based approach for all Nova Scotia. We are at a critical point in the race between variant in vaccine, and we cannot deviate from our effective age-based process.”

People who are 55 or over can book an appointment for any of the vaccines —  Pfizer, Moderna, or AstraZeneca; and people who are from 40-54 can also book an appointment for the AstraZeneca. You can book an appointment here.


Schools

I’ve added school-connected COVID cases that I’m aware of to the potential exposure advisories map (see below).

The current status of schools:

All schools in the province are closed until May 12.


Potential exposure advisories

Last night, Public Health issued the following list of potential COVID exposure advisories (the release also contained a couple of corrections from previous releases; I’ve updated the potential exposure map to reflect those corrections):

Anyone who worked at or visited the following locations 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 COVID-19 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 locations, 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.

  • Giant Tiger Port Hawkesbury (47 Paint Street, Port Hawkesbury) on April 23 from 3:15 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, May 7.
  • Canadian Tire Truro (90 Robie St, Truro) on April 21 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, May 5.
  • Sma’knis Trading Shop (211 Abenaki Rd, Truro) on April 20 from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, May 4.
  • Starbucks Truro (63 Robie St, Truro) on April 20 from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, May 4.

Regardless of whether or not you have COVID-19 symptoms, those present at the following locations on the named dates and times are required to self-isolate while waiting for their test result. If you get a negative result, you do not need to keep self-isolating. If you get a positive result, you will be contacted by Public Health about what to do next.

  • Kitchen 1409 (1409 Trans-Canada Hwy, Bras D’or) on April 23 from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, May 7.
  • Costco Bayer’s Lake (230 Chain Lake Dr, Halifax) on April 27 from 7:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, May 11.
  • YMCA Port Hawkesbury (606 Reeves St, Port Hawkesbury) on April 22 from 3:30 pm to 6 p.m. and April 23 from 3:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, May 7.
  • Venus Envy (1598 Barrington St, Halifax) on April 18 from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, May 2.
  • Tim Hortons Port Hawkesbury (603 Reeves St, Port Hawkesbury) on April 23 from 2:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, May 7.
  • Dairy Queen Port Hawkesbury (317 Reeves St, Port Hawkesbury) on April 23 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, May 7.
  • Various Halifax Transit routes:
    • Route 138 travelling from Dunbrack St. to Barrington St. on April 26 and April 27 between 7:30 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, May 10.
    • Route 138 travelling from Barrington St. to Dunbrack St. on April 26 between 3:30 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, May 10.
    • Route 29 travelling from Mumford Rd. to Barrington St. on April 22 between 4:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, May 6.
    • Route 28 travelling from Barrington St. to Mumford Rd. on April 22 between 4:30 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, May 6.
    • Route 29 travelling from Mumford Rd. to Barrington St. on April 23 between 2:30 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, May 7.
    • Route 28 travelling from Barrington St. to Mumford Rd. on April 23 between 3:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, May 7.

Regardless of whether or not you have COVID-19 symptoms, those present at the following location on the named date and times are required to self-isolate, get tested and continue self-isolating for 14 days, even with a negative test result.

  • Lakeside Community Centre (1492 Saint Margarets Bay Rd, Lakeside) on April 20 from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, May 4.

Anyone who was on the following flights in the specified rows and seats should visit https://covid-self-assessment.novascotia.ca/en to book a COVID-19 test,regardless of whether or not they have COVID-19 symptoms. You can also call 811 if you don’t have online access or if you have other symptoms that concern you.

  • Air Canada 8780 travelling on April 26 from Montreal (8:00 a.m.) to Halifax (10:24 a.m.). Passengers in rows 12-18, seats A, C and D are asked to immediately visit https://covid-self-assessment.novascotia.ca/en to book a COVID-19 test, regardless of whether or not they have COVID-19 symptoms. All other passengers on this flight should continue to self-isolate as required and monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus on this flight on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, May 10.
  • Air Canada 613 travelling on April 27 from Halifax (3:45 p.m.) to Toronto (5:15 p.m.). Passengers in rows 11-17, seats C, D, E and F are asked to immediately visit https://covid-self-assessment.novascotia.ca/en to book a COVID-19 test, regardless of whether or not they have COVID-19 symptoms. All other passengers on this flight should continue to self-isolate as required and monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus on this flight on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, May 11.
  • Air Canada 624 travelling on April 21 from Toronto (9:15 p.m.) to Halifax (12:15 a.m. on April 22). Passengers in rows 21-27, seats C, D, E, and F are asked to immediately visit https://covid-self-assessment.novascotia.ca/en to book a COVID-19 test, regardless of whether or not they have COVID-19 symptoms. All other passengers on this flight should continue to self-isolate as required and monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus on this flight on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, May 5.

The updated potential COVID exposure advisory map is below; you can click on the icons to get information about each site. I’ve also added school-connected cases to the map. Note: in HRM, potential exposure sites that are considered low-risk for transmission are no longer subject to advisories; that’s because everyone in HRM is encouraged to get tested, whether they were at a potential exposure site or not.


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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. Love this new format! It provides so much more information than the more mainstream news sources. And I love how Halifax Examiner always tries to present both sides of any issue it reports. Please keep up the good work. I can’t afford to donate at this time, but I would if I could.