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Nova Scotia reporting 91 new COVID-19 cases, outbreak at hospital worsens

Click to play video: 'COVID-19 vaccine rollout progresses but increased hospitalization still a concern' COVID-19 vaccine rollout progresses but increased hospitalization still a concern
WATCH: Nova Scotia has dropped the age eligibility for vaccines to 30 and older and is expecting to open up vaccine appointments to all Nova Scotians 12 and older by next week. While the vaccine rollout progresses, health officials are promoting testing as a way to monitor COVID spread in our province as concerns for increased hospitalizations remains. Alicia Draus reports – May 17, 2021

Nova Scotia is reporting 91 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, and 187 recoveries.

The majority of the news cases — 66 of them — are in Central Zone. Seventeen are in Eastern Zone, five in Northern Zone and three in Western Zone.

At a briefing with Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang, Premier Iain Rankin pointed out 17 of the new cases are in the Sydney area.

“The fluctuation in case numbers in Sydney is an indication the variants are on the move in different parts of our province,” Rankin said.

Read more: COVID-19: Nova Scotia expands vaccine eligibility to people aged 30 and older

Meanwhile, two more patients in a non-COVID unit at the Halifax Infirmary site of the QEII Health Sciences Centre have tested positive, and have been transferred to the COVID-19 unit.

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Staff and doctors who worked in that unit are being tested.

Click to play video: 'COVID-19: Nova Scotia reporting 91 new coronavirus cases' COVID-19: Nova Scotia reporting 91 new coronavirus cases
COVID-19: Nova Scotia reporting 91 new coronavirus cases – May 17, 2021

According to Dr. Brendan Carr, the CEO and President of the Nova Scotia Health Authority, the outbreak in that unit now involves 12 patients and four staff members.  He says the hospital is taking enhanced precautions to prevent further spread.

Carr added that all patients are tested when being admitted to the hospital. However, he says, it’s possible someone could have been tested after being exposed to the virus, but before being COVID-19 positive.

“We don’t yet know the source of the infection but given the high prevalence of COVID-19 in our province, the likelihood of COVID-19 infections among admitted patients is higher now than it’s ever been,” he said.

He says they are now retesting all patients at the Halifax Infirmary and Victoria General site of the QEII Health Sciences Centre.

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The hospital is also preparing for an influx of COVID-19 patients, including those who require intensive care.

“We’ve initiated a provincewide response, which means staff and other resources are being redirected and redeployed to greatest areas of need,” he explained.

The response means surgeries and procedures will be reduced temporarily, to ensure the hospital has the capacity to deal with all COVID-19 cases.

There are 1,435 active cases in the province, while 95 people are in hospital, including 21 in ICU.

The province reiterated there is community spread in Central Zone, as well as “areas of concern” including Sydney, Bridgewater, and the Annapolis Valley from New Minas to Kentville.

‘Seventy-five per cent is our magic number’

The province opened up Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to people 30 and older Monday morning.

Rankin says the province expects to have all eligible groups open by next week.

As of Sunday, 430,856 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered. Of those, 39,235 Nova Scotians have received their second dose.

As well, the idea of New England states sharing their extra vaccines with eastern Canadian provinces was recently discussed during a meeting between the governors and premiers.

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According to Nova Scotia, the New England states have indicated they have a “significant percentage” of their population vaccinated and they are “willing to share their excess vaccine as a way of expediting the reopening of borders and the recovery that can follow once that happens.”

The governors and premiers will be sending a joint letter to the American and Canadian governments to facilitate “receipt of the extra vaccine and their work in reopening the border.”

Strang says the uptake in vaccination among older Nova Scotians has been high, and he hopes to see younger populations do the same.

He adds, in his opinion, the province will need to see 75 per cent of the population vaccinated — not just 75 per cent of those eligible — in order to ramp down restrictions that have been in place for over a year now.

“Seventy-five per cent is our magic number,” he said.

Currently, 40 per cent of the population has received one or both doses of a vaccine.

“The virus needs a large population of unvaccinated people to spread we cannot give it that opportunity,” Strang said. “Anybody eligible must do their part and get vaccinated.“

Nova Scotia Health reports 40 cases among staff

In an update form Nova Scotia Health, there are now 40 confirmed COVID-19 cases among staff, with 15 of those considered active.

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Twenty-five cases are deemed recovered.

As well, 14 health care workers are in isolation because of these positive cases in the workplace.

Meanwhile, there are 62 staff members currently in isolation because they are reporting symptoms or they were in an exposure location identified by Public Health.

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