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NS reports 129 new COVID-19 cases; 8 presumptive cases at Dalhousie | Nation World News

Nova Scotia is reporting 129 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday amid an ongoing outbreak at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish.

There are 64 new cases in the central health zone, 52 in the eastern zone, 10 in the northern zone and three in the western zone, according to a news release from the Department of Health and Wellness.

The updated COVID-19 numbers were released Saturday afternoon, after the province said on Friday that it would not issue updates over the weekend.

“Because of the outbreak at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish the number of positive cases being released today are lab results, not Panorama results,” the news release said. “This better reflects the situation on the ground.”

Panorama is Nova Scotia’s public health information system, which usually provides the updated COVID-19 statistics each weekday.

As of Friday, there were 114 cases connected to the outbreakwhich likely stemmed from the university’s X-Ring ceremony and a number of sanctioned and unsanctioned events at the university.

A spokesperson with Public Health said the number of Saturday’s new cases related to the outbreak is not yet available.

Public Health did say some of the cases reported Saturday are associated with the outbreak in the eastern zone, but are being counted in the central zone because of the home addresses on some students’ health cards.

“As we are able to do the investigations, we’re uncovering these and seeing that more and more — even though they’re attributed to the central zone — they’re actually a part of the St. FX cluster and may well live up there,” Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, said at a briefing Friday.

The release said most of the people infected in this outbreak are young and fully vaccinated so they are only experiencing mild symptoms.

Late Friday, the Antigonish, NS, university canceled all in-person exams after the province changed its COVID-19 isolation policy, which is expected to impact many students.

Due to the increase in cases and the high number of recent exposures, the province said all close contacts of positive cases must now isolate until they receive a negative PCR test, regardless of vaccination status.

Public Health has sent its mobile COVID-19 testing unit to Antigonish. It will be at the university’s Keating Center at 1100 Convocation Blvd. Saturday between 11 am and 5 pm AT and Sunday between 11 am and 4 pm

Presumptive cases at Dalhousie University

On Saturday afternoon, Dalhousie University in Halifax announced eight presumptive COVID-19 cases among students after rapid tests were completed.

According to a news release, six of the individuals live in residences — five in Howe Hall, and one in Risley Hall — and they have been told to isolate and get PCR tests to confirm the positive results.

Two cases among off-campus students have also been reported.

“While we know this news is concerning, our Residence and Student Affairs teams are prepared for this and are here to support our students and our broader community,” Emily Huner, the acting assistant vice-provost of student affairs, said in the release.

NS reports 129 new COVID-19 cases; 8 presumptive cases at Dalhousie | Nation World News
A student is seen walking into a building at Dalhousie University. The university said it has identified eight presumptive cases of COVID-19 in students. (Eric Woolliscroft/CBC)

Huner said Public Health has been notified and will work with the school to start identifying close contacts and exposures once the results are confirmed.

She also said none of the eight students attended any in-person exams, which are continuing with safety protocols. Any student who tests positive is asked not to attend in-person exams.

The release said all students in both Halifax and Truro residences are also being asked to complete rapid tests on Saturday and Sunday to identify any further cases.

The university reminded students that take-away rapid tests are available at the student union building, Killam Library and Kellogg Library during the weekend.

Delays in followups

Nova Scotia Health labs completed 3,865 tests on Friday.

The authority said because of the spike in testing and positive cases, Public Health is experiencing some delays in followups.

People who test positive can expect a response from Public Health within 24 hours, and they will be given information on isolation and asked about their close contacts.

Saturday’s news release did not include how many active cases are now in Nova Scotia or how many people are in hospital with the virus. It also said the COVID-19 dashboard will not be updated over the weekend.

However, updated COVID-19 numbers are expected to be released again on Sunday.

The province has also scheduled a COVID-19 briefing on Monday at 3 pm with Strang, Premier Tim Houston and Health and Wellness Minister Michelle Thompson.

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