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Friday, December 09, 2022

Restrictions to return as COVID-19 cases climb in NS, Omicron variant confirmed

Halifax –

Nova Scotia reported 114 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, the highest daily case count since the third wave, along with dozens of confirmed cases of the Omicron variant.

There are 55 cases in Central Zone, 52 cases in Eastern Zone, five cases in Western Zone, and two cases in Northern Zone.

Six people are in hospital with the virus, including two in ICU. There are no hospitalizations in the Eastern Zone.

During a COVID-19 update on Monday, Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston warned that the new variant spreads quickly and the incubation period appears to be shorter. He said the majority of the new cases have been in younger people and that no one from the St. FX outbreak has been hospitalized so far.

Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Robert Strang said the National Microbiology Lab confirmed 40 cases of the Omicron variant in the province and those cases were previously reported.

OUTBREAK IN ANTIGONISH

The province also reported an outbreak of COVID-19 at Parkland Antigonish, a seniors living community. Two residents and two staff members from the retirement home have tested positive for the virus and one staff member from Mary’s Court, the licensed long-term care neighbourhood, has also tested positive.

Dr. Strang said no one related to that outbreak is in hospital.

In a statement posted to the St. FX Facebook page Monday evening, president Andy Hakin said there are now 140 positive student cases, including 22 students isolating with COVID in residence.

“By all accounts, symptoms remain mild and flu-like, with no hospitalizations,” Hakin said.

“I want to take this opportunity to recognize and thank the members of staff and the wider Antigonish community who continue to provide support to our students. We are very grateful.”

Regardless of vaccination status, Hakin said before leaving campus, students must get tested for COVID-19.

  • If you have had close contact or have been to an exposure site, you must self-isolate, book a PCR test for 72 hours after the exposure time (not the date that the notice is issued, the actual time of the exposure), and remain isolated until you receive a negative result.
  • If you have no symptoms and have not had close contact with a positive case or been to an exposure location, take a rapid test before leaving campus. Ensure that this test is negative before you leave. If the rapid test result is positive, self-isolate and arrange to get a COVID-19 PCR test as soon as possible.
  • If you have symptoms, you must self-isolate immediately and get a COVID-19 PCR test. You must wait for a negative result and wait for symptoms to resolve before you can stop self-isolating and leave campus.


VACCINE UPDATE

The province reported that as of Monday, 1,681,621 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered to Nova Scotians.

Of that number, 790,778 Nova Scotians have received their second dose, and 46,537 eligible Nova Scotians have received a third dose.

RESTRICTIONS RETURN

The province announced on Monday that effective Tuesday there will be enhanced public health measures at schools until the holiday break next week.

This includes:

  • school sports are limited to team skills training only
  • no assemblies and no holiday concerts
  • no mixing of classes, including a pause on activities like Reading Buddies
  • essential visitors only in schools
  • masks are required indoors and outdoors where physical distancing cannot be maintained
  • limited access to cafeterias

The province also announced that starting at 9 am on Friday Dec. 17, a number of restrictions will return until at least the New Year when it will be re-evaluated.

Physical distance and mask requirements:

  • Physical distance of two meters (six feet) is required indoors and outdoors, except among people in the same household or a consistent social group of up to 20 people –places like fitness and recreation facilities, retail businesses, malls, museums, libraries and personal services like hair salons can operate at the maximum capacity possible with physical distancing
  • Food establishments and liquor-licensed establishments must have physical distance between tables and a limit of 20 people per table
  • People must be seated to remove their mask for eating or drinking; all other mask requirements for indoor public places remain, including wearing them when seated for other activities
  • Masks are required in areas of workplaces where physical distance cannot be achieved, as well as common areas, areas where people are serving the public and areas with poor ventilation
  • Individuals, businesses and organizations all have responsibility for ensuring mask requirements are followed and can all be subject to enforcement action

Gathering limits:

  • Indoor and outdoor informal gatherings, typically at home, are limited to 20 people from the same household or consistent social group; physical distance and proof of full vaccination are not required; masks are not required except in indoor public places
  • Gathering limits of 50 per cent of capacity to a maximum of 150 people indoors and 250 outdoors apply to social gatherings, regular faith services, weddings, funerals and their associated receptions and visitation, special events, meetings, training, festivals, and audiences for sports events and arts and culture events (like performances and movie theaters) that are hosted by a recognized business or organization, including faith organizations
  • A limit of 60 participants indoors and outdoors applies to sports practices, games, and regular league play; tournaments are not allowed; physical distance is not required, and masks are recommended when possible indoors and outdoors
  • A limit of 60 participants indoors and outdoors applies to professional and amateur arts and culture rehearsals and performances; competitions are not allowed; professionals must have a plan for their workplace; physical distance is not required, and masks are recommended when possible indoors and outdoors
  • Children age 11 and younger continue to be restricted from entering Nova Scotia to participate in sports and arts and culture events and from participating in them outside Nova Scotia
  • Specific organizational plans will be considered for large venues such as Scotiabank Centre, Halifax Exhibition Center and Halifax Convention Centre.

Long-term care:

  • A limit of two visitors at a time with long-term care residents; it does not have to be the same two visitors each time
  • It is strongly recommended that visitors have a rapid test within 24 hours of the visit
  • Visitors can have quick close contact like a hug but then need to stay physically distanced for the rest of the visit
  • The requirement for visitors to wear masks and be fully vaccinated, except for end-of-life visits, remains
  • Residents can only leave the facility for overnight visits if they are fully vaccinated and it is strongly recommended that they have their booster dose as well.

The province says there is no change in the requirement for proof of full vaccination for discretionary activities.


COVID ALERT APP

Canada’s COVID-19 Alert app is available in Nova Scotia.

The app, which can be downloaded through the Apple App Store or Google Play, notifies users if they may have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.


LIST OF SYMPTOMS

Anyone who experiences a fever or new or worsening cough, or two or more of the following new or worsening symptoms, is encouraged to take an online test or call 811 to determine if they need to be tested for COVID-19:

  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Shortness of breath
  • Runny nose/nasal congestion
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