N.S. pausing use of AstraZeneca vaccine, reporting 149 new COVID-19 cases

Click to play video: 'Nova Scotia pauses 1st dose of Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, following other provinces' Nova Scotia pauses 1st dose of Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, following other provinces
Nova Scotia Premier Iain Rankin announced on Wednesday that the province would follow the lead of Alberta and Ontario in pausing the first dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, adding that many Nova Scotians are already opting for mRNA vaccines. Rankin said officials are awaiting the results of a global study looking at the impact of mixing the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine with another type of vaccine before making a final decision – May 12, 2021

Nova Scotia is pausing the use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine as the first dose, as concerns surrounding the vaccine continues. 

The AstraZeneca vaccine has been linked to vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia, or VITT, in other provinces.

Premier Iain Rankin said at a COVID-19 briefing that more than 1,000 appointments have been cancelled and that more people are choosing Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

READ MORE: Did Alberta, Ontario make the right move with AstraZeneca? Experts weigh in

“There is a study to determine if the first dose of AstraZeneca can mix with a second dose of either Pfizer or Moderna. We are waiting until that is complete, (so in the meantime) we are pausing the vaccine,” said Rankin.

Click to play video: 'Nova Scotia halts use of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine' Nova Scotia halts use of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine
Nova Scotia halts use of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine – May 12, 2021

Rankin said this will not affect the province’s vaccine rollout.

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“The decision to pause the use of AstraZeneca vaccine is based on caution, science and the availability of alternative mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna. It is the best solution to move people getting AstraZeneca to receive mRNA instead,” said Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Robert Strang.

READ MORE: Nova Scotia introduces paid sick leave program for workers who need time off due to COVID-19

Anyone who is scheduled to receive their first dose of AstraZeneca vaccine will be contacted by their clinic for a new appointment for either a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine as soon as possible.

As the province announced a new paid sick leave program for Nova Scotians Wednesday, Strang said that it’s good news for people who are sick due to COVID-19 and have to self-isolate.

“Workplaces have become major contributors to COVID-19 transmission and we all need to work together to stay safe … so have your employees work from home if possible,” said Strang.

People who cannot work remotely and miss less than 50 per cent of their scheduled work time in a one-week period due to COVID-19 may be eligible.

New cases

Nova Scotia reported 149 new cases and 119 recoveries on Wednesday.

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There are 116 new cases in Central Zone, 13 in Western Zone, 11 in Eastern Zone and nine in Northern Zone.

The province also announced that as of now, public health has cleared the backlog of positive cases.

“All positive cases have been contacted and entered into Panorama, the data system,” the province said in a news release.

As of Wednesday, Nova Scotia has 1,621 active cases of COVID-19. There are 73 people in hospital, including 14 in ICU.

Click to play video: 'Vaccine eligibility expands for Nova Scotians aged 40+' Vaccine eligibility expands for Nova Scotians aged 40+
Vaccine eligibility expands for Nova Scotians aged 40+ – May 11, 2021

On Tuesday, Nova Scotia Health Authority’s labs completed 7,289 tests.

So far, 387,683 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered. Of those, 38,152 Nova Scotians have received their second dose.

Since April 1, there have been 2,559 positive COVID-19 cases and five deaths. Cases range in age from under 10 to over 90. There are 933 resolved cases. Cumulative cases may change as data is updated in Panorama.

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ICU capacity updates

Strang said even though numbers of new cases are trending downwards compared to a few weeks ago, the number of hospitalizations is still high.

He said some patients in ICUs in Halifax had to be transported to other zones.

“All aspects of our health-care systems are being impacted. We are not out of the woods yet. Hospitalizations may still increase while new cases are declining,” Strang said.

Nova Scotia Health said in a release that due to the high number of people in need of hospitalization, it has activated its provincial escalation plan to increase intensive care bed capacity.
As part of this plan, fewer than five intensive care patients — both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 — have been transferred from the Central Zone to ICUs in the Northern and Western zones.
As of Wednesday, there are currently 20 COVID-19 patients in Nova Scotia Health hospital ICUs. Of those, 15 are in the Central Zone.
In addition, there are also 47 more patients in ICUs for non-COVID-19 reasons.

Camping season delayed

Nova Scotia Provincial Parks is delaying the start of camping season at provincial camping parks until at least June 1 due to COVID-19 restrictions.

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In a release, the province said campers with reservations between May 21 and 31 will be contacted by email to cancel and refund their bookings.

“Campers should not cancel their own reservations,” said the province.

Campers who have already cancelled their reservations since May 7 will receive a refund. They should allow up to 10 business days to receive a refund.

In the meantime, day-use parks and day-use areas of campgrounds continue to be open for outdoor recreation. People should only visit parks in their own community.

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