Nova Scotia health officials reported a record-breaking 148 cases of COVID-19 on Saturday as Public Health works to clear a backlog of tens of thousands of tests.
The previous record of single-day cases was on Tuesday, when 96 cases were reported.
“We’re making progress with the lab and data-entry backlog but we will continue to see high case numbers for a few days,” said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, in a release.
“We are in a serious place right now and every Nova Scotian needs to be vigilant, stay home, and make the new public health measures a way of life for the next while.”
Out of the new cases, 129 are in the province’s central health zone, 17 are in the eastern health zone and two are in the western health zone.
The release said two new central zone cases are residents of the Clarmar Residential Care Facility, a residential care home in Dartmouth. They are linked to a previous case at the facility.
Another central zone case is a staff member at the Shoreham Village long-term care home in Chester. Residents living in one of the units are being isolated and cared for in their rooms and staff and residents are being tested. The release said residents in this unit have received both doses of COVID-19 vaccine. Public Health will follow up with Closing the Gap, a home-care provider connected to this case.
The province is no longer regularly releasing the exposure category — such as travel, close contact or under investigation — due to the increased number of investigations. The release said community spread has been confirmed in the central health zone and the province is monitoring the other health zones for community spread.
A further eight people have been hospitalized since Friday, bringing the total number of people in hospital to 30. Five people are in intensive care.
There are currently 713 active cases of COVID-19.
While case numbers had declined between Wednesday and Friday, Dr. Robert Strang, the province’s chief medical officer of health, warned on Friday that there was a large backlog of tests and the province should be prepared to see “substantially higher case numbers” in the coming days.
There is a backlog of about 45,000 tests, along with case data entry, that Public Health will work to clear over the weekend.
Nova Scotia Health’s labs completed 16,578 tests on Friday.
Change in testing
The province has implemented changes to its testing program to help deal with that backlog. Testing appointments at primary assessment centres can now only be booked by people who have symptoms, are a close contact of another case, have been to an exposure site or have travelled outside of Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador or Prince Edward Island.
Anyone outside those categories is asked to instead get a rapid test at a pop-up testing site.
Strang said the province’s health-care system is already starting to feel the strain of increased case numbers and described the situation as “the most serious we’ve been in throughout the pandemic.”
Some hospitals have begun to reduce services to accommodate an influx of new COVID-19 patients that’s expected in the coming days and weeks.