COVID-19: N.S reports 111 new cases, St. FX outbreak mostly among off-campus students

Click to play video: 'COVID-19 outbreak at St. Francis Xavier University grows' COVID-19 outbreak at St. Francis Xavier University grows
WATCH: The outbreak at St. Francis Xavier University is growing as anticipated. There are now 114 cases connected to the university cluster – Dec 10, 2021

Nova Scotia reported 111 new cases of  COVID-19 on Sunday, as the outbreak at  St. Francis Xavier University continues to grow.

There were 63 new cases in Central Zone, 42 cases in Eastern Zone where the university is located, five cases in Northern Zone and one case in Western Zone.

Read more: St. FX president apologizes, school cancels in-person exams amid growing COVID-19 outbreak

Public health said that some of the cases associated with the university, which is located in Antigonish, N.S., are being counted in Central Zone because of the address on the student’s health card.

“Those infected in the outbreak are experiencing relatively mild symptoms and the cases are mostly young people who are fully vaccinated,” the province repeated in a news release.

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The outbreak has been attributed to the university’s X-ring ceremony and events last weekend. The president and vice-chancellor of the university, Andy Hakin, has since apologized for the school’s role in the outbreak.

In an update on Saturday evening, Hakin said most of the students who have been “directly impacted” live off-campus. However, 16 cases to date have been reported in residence.

“There are 27 students isolating in residence, awaiting PCR results. Meals are delivered to their doors and a nurse from our StFX Health and Counselling Centre checks in with them every day,” he wrote.

As well, 20 off-campus students were having their groceries and necessities delivered through the university’s Neighbours Helping Neighbours Program.

Read more: Environment Canada issues rainfall warnings for all of Nova Scotia

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The university does not have a vaccine mandate but has previously said more than 90 per cent of its student body is fully vaccinated.

At least eight presumptive cases were also identified at Halifax’s Dalhousie University this weekend.

And Paqtnkek Mi’kmaw Nation in Antigonish County has confirmed two positive cases, prompting the small community to close the Paqtnkek Education Centre, Preschool and Daycare until after the holidays. On its Facebook page, Paqtnkek Mi’kmaw Nation also shared a letter from Chief Tma Francis to Strait Regional Centre for Education, requesting that children from the community be excused from attending school for the remainder of 2021.

“As you are aware, there are rising cases of COVID-19 in Antigonish and surrounding areas especially here in Paqtnkek. The province of Nova Scotia has identified the Mi’kmaq people as a vulnerable population susceptible to the adverse effects of the pandemic,” Francis wrote.

The community is also handing out rapid tests and helping to arrange PCR testing.

Spike in testing and positive cases

Due to the spike in testing and positive cases, public health said it is experiencing a delay in following up with people.

“People whose lab test is positive will continue to have received an initial contact from public health within 24 hours and they will be provided information on required isolation and testing plus asked to contact their close contacts,” the release reads.

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All close contacts, including those who are fully vaccinated, must now isolate until they receive a negative result from a PCR test. The test should be performed at least 72 hours after exposure.

Testing has been increased in the Antigonish area, which includes extended hours at testing centres and bringing mobile units to the area.

The outbreak at St. FX has prompted other jurisdictions to warn their residents. The X-ring graduation event brought in visitors from out of province.

On Sunday, Prince Edward Island, which reported seven new COVID-19 cases, reminded anyone who was at St. FX University Dec. 3-6 to visit a drop-in testing clinic on the island ” to be tested and isolate until a negative test result is received.”

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