Nova Scotia reported 123 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, with 55 of them related to the outbreak at St. Francis Xavier University stemming from graduation events at the school.
This brings the total number of COVID-19 cases at the Antigonish, N.S. university to 114.
Overall, there are 56 new cases in Central Zone, 60 cases in Eastern Zone, 6 cases in Northern Zone, and one case in Western Zone.
“Some of the cases we were able to investigate (relating to the university outbreak) live in the central zone, but were at the graduation ring ceremony,” said Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Robert Strang. at a briefing on Friday afternoon.
Some cases associated with the outbreak are being counted in Central Zone because of the address on the student’s health card, Strang said. That is why not all of the cases related to St. FX are reflected in the Eastern Zone numbers.
Because of the spike in testing and positive cases, Strang noted N.S. Public Health has begun experiencing delays in following up with people.
Strang also said people who have tested positive will still be contacted within 24 hours.
In the meantime, the province said in a release Public Health will continue to support contact tracing in schools, long-term care, correctional facilities, shelters and other settings.
“Our priority now is we want to make sure don’t miss secondary cases linked to St. FX,” Strang said.
Due to the outbreak, Strang said all close contacts, including those who are fully vaccinated need to isolate until they have a negative result from a lab-based (PCR) test. The lab test should be performed at least 72 hours after the exposure.
“Expect to see more cases in these types of numbers in the days ahead,” Strang said. “We are seeing the protective effect of vaccines. All the cases we have now…they’re flu-like cases. It shows the protective factor of the vaccines.”
In the meantime, Strang said he’s not ruling out the possibility of having the Omicron variant of COVID-19 in the province, but he cannot confirm or deny that.
There were 44,341 rapid tests administered between Dec. 3 and 9. This includes 2,091 rapid tests at the pop-up sites in Halifax, Dartmouth, and Tantallon and 42,250 through the workplace screening program. Another 17,314 home rapid tests were distributed at the pop-up sites.
Nova Scotia Health Authority’s labs completed 4,730 tests the day before.
As of Thursday, 1,671,588 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered. Of those, 790,288 Nova Scotians have received their second dose, and 40,860 eligible Nova Scotians have received a third dose.
Since Aug. 1, there have been 2,695 positive COVID-19 cases and 16 deaths. There are 2,442 resolved cases.
The province also announced that it is renewing the state of emergency to continue enforcing safety measures. The order will take effect at noon, Dec. 12, and extend to noon, Dec. 26, unless the government terminates or extends it.