Nova Scotia’s premier and chief medical officer of health say they are increasingly concerned about the growing number of people hospitalized due to COVID-19, and angered by the few who defy public health restrictions in the midst of the third wave.
The province reported 146 new cases on Monday, with 130 of them in the Central Zone. Nine were in the Eastern Zone, four are in the Northern Zone and three in the Western Zone.
At an afternoon briefing, Premier Iain Rankin said it was “outrageous” that 37 fines were handed out in the Halifax area over the weekend.
“I have a serious question. What is wrong with you? How come you don’t take this as serious as you should?” he said.
“The only answer that I can come up with is that you don’t care.”
Currently, restrictions permit people to only gather with their own household. Those with small households may bubble with one or two other people, but those additional people must be consistent during the lockdown.
Rankin said he spoke to the chiefs of police in Halifax and Cape Breton about the issue. He admits while the fine has already been bumped up to $2,000 for violating health restrictions, fines can only go so far.
“At the end of the day, we’re not going to fine our way out of this,” he said.
“This variant is no joke. It’s killing people. It’s putting young people in the ICU.”
To that point, at the time of the 3 p.m. briefing, 42 people were in hospital, with eight in the ICU.
Just hours earlier, when a news release was sent out with Monday’s numbers, there were 40 people in hospital and six in ICU.
Dr. Robert Strang, the chief medical officer of health, said health officials are seeing stark differences between this third wave and the previous two waves.
He said the average age of people currently hospitalized is between 40 and 60, and that people’s conditions have deteriorated quickly.
“Whether you are young or old, healthy or not, the virus doesn’t care,“ Strang said.
“While there are treatments that can help with the symptoms of COVID, there is no cure and no guarantee.“
Strang reminded people to call 811 or 911 immediately if they felt unwell with COVID-19, and said the province had worked with EHS to waive ambulance fees for emergency transport.
He added while people should get vaccinated when their age group comes up, vaccines do not provide immediate protection. He said he learned of a “couple people in hospital because they immediately went out to celebrate after getting their first dose.”
He also said it was not sufficient for people to rely on the public exposure notifications because of how widespread the virus is in the Halifax area. Anyone who has been out in public — even for the occasional trip to the grocery store — should be tested regularly.
“We are not anywhere close to being out of the woods,” Strang said.
“This virus can be deadly. It’s not like COVID from a year ago. It’s almost a new virus. It’s COVID 2021.”
Strang said the long-term goal is to have all Nova Scotians eligible for a vaccine to have access to one by June. He is hopeful that participation will be high, and pointed to the fact that about 80 per cent of those over the age of 65 have opted to be vaccinated.
He admitted in the short-term, however, as the province deals with this outbreak, that following health restrictions and mass testing will be key.
Vaccination for people aged 50 and older
Starting Monday, people aged 50 and older can book appointments for Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines at clinics across the province.
The province said all community clinics and many participating pharmacies have available appointments for this age group.
Nova Scotia’s first COVID-19 vaccination drive-thru clinic will also open on May 10, at the Dartmouth General Hospital. This clinic will be for people 50 and older.
The province said appointments will be posted Tuesday.
Cases within Nova Scotia Health
In an update, Nova Scotia Health said there are 12 confirmed COVID-19 cases among staff in Central Zone, with one probable case discovered during rapid testing.
Two of the cases are deemed recovered, and 10 are active.
Five health care workers are in isolation as a result of positive cases in the workplace.
Meanwhile, 166 staff members are in isolation due to experiencing symptoms or as a result of being in an exposure location as identified by Public Health.
— With a file from Aya Al-Hakim
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