Nova Scotia’s deputy chief medical officer of health says COVID-19 cases are possibly stabilizing, but cautions it will take another month before the numbers show a “sharp decrease.”
In its weekly epidemiologic update, the province reported 7,508 positive PCR tests. 84 hospital admissions and 13 deaths in a seven-day period.
The median age of those who have died because of COVID-19 since the start of the Omicron wave is 80.
The report points out that the number of PCR positive tests is probably an underestimation of the case count in the province, since people are taking rapid tests and are not required to follow up with a PCR test to confirm a positive result.
Nonetheless, Dr. Shelley Deeks told reporters Thursday that the province may have hit the peak of this sixth wave, according to the data.
She says earlier in March, there was a “steep trajectory” in cases — fueled by the Omicron variant — but things are more stable now.
“We can never say we’re past the peak until we’re on the other side and look at the data in retrospect. But when we look at both the number of new PCR cases, as well as the number of outbreaks in long-term care — both of those data points show us that over the past couple of weeks, the number of cases appears to have stabilized,” Deeks said.
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“Even at the peak we’re getting a large number of cases daily but it tends to be about I would say another month in terms before we start seeing a nice sharp decrease.”
As of Wednesday, there were 325 patients in hospital with COVID-19, and 10 of them were receiving intensive care. And 450 health-care staff were off work as a result of the virus, most of them in the Halifax area.
Of the 1,956 infections reported in long-term care facilities since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, 83 per cent have been during the most recent wave.
Deeks said the Omicron subvariant BA.2 was to blame for the more recent infections.
She says most people recently infected have been experiencing mild symptoms, but points out that may not be the case for everyone. She adds wearing a mask and keeping social circles small remain the best ways to limit the spread of the virus.
As the warmer months approach, she also expects cases to decrease.
“With warmer weather, people are outside and this virus doesn’t transmit as easily when you’re outside than when you’re in indoor spaces.”
In Nova Scotia, masking is only mandatory in certain limited indoor settings, such as schools and health-care facilities. This week, the mask mandate in schools was extended until at least May 20.
— with files from The Canadian Press