Nova Scotia reported 52 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday as cases related to the outbreak at St. Francis Xavier University continues to grow.
In a release, the province said 38 of the new cases are related to an outbreak stemming from graduation events at the school. A total of 59 cases have been connected to this outbreak so far.
Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health, previously said the cluster is related to the university’s recent ceremony giving rings to the graduating class, as well as social events held on and around the campus over the weekend.
“So far, those infected are experiencing very mild symptoms because the cases are mostly young people who are fully vaccinated,” said a release from the province.
“We expect more new cases in the coming days. The university reports that about 95 per cent of the student body is vaccinated.”
It said there has been no evidence of spread in classrooms or residences to date, and no secondary transmission in the community.
“Currently, the investigation has found the majority of spread happened in smaller, private gatherings,” the release said.
“Most cases are related to those who attended activities December 2-5, both on and off campus. There is an ongoing enforcement investigation.”
The release added that the university, school and community have been “very cooperative” and are complying with public health investigation advice, including testing.
In response to the outbreak, Nova Scotia Health’s testing centre has increased its hours of operation and the Public Health Mobile Unit will be in the community over the next several days. Take-home test kits are also being distributed by Nova Scotia Health and the university.
“Our priority right now is supporting those who are positive and containing any further spread on campus and in the community,” said Dr. Strang in the release.
“The vaccine is doing its job by limiting spread and keeping symptoms mild, so this outbreak is very different from what we’ve seen in previous wave 4 outbreaks. Our concern level is lower because of wide-spread vaccinations and the symptoms we are seeing.”
Strang said it’s important that community members and students “diligently practice” public health measures, especially masking and isolation. He asked anyone to get tested if they have any symptoms or if they attended any of the graduation activities or had interactions with the people involved.
Of the 52 new cases reported Thursday, 29 are in the Central Zone, 18 are in the Eastern Zone, three are in the Northern Zone and two are in the Western Zone.
The release said there is a cluster of cases in a localized community in the Northern Zone and evidence of limited community spread in Halifax and parts of northern Nova Scotia.
There are now 194 active cases in Nova Scotia. Nine people are in hospital, including four in intensive care.
Nova Scotia Health labs completed 4,454 tests on Wednesday.
An additional four schools have been notified of a COVID-19 exposure. A full list of schools with exposures can be found here.
Due to technical issues, there was no updated immunization data provided Thursday. However, as of Wednesday, 84.9 per cent of Nova Scotians have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 81.6 per cent are fully vaccinated.