Cases rise in the Strait area

HALIFAX: On a day the province set another record for the number of new COVID-19 cases, local numbers have climbed.

According to the Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) web site, there are now 11 active cases in the Inverness, Victoria and Richmond Community Health Network. Yesterday there were four active cases in this part of rural Cape Breton.

After posting none yesterday, there is now one new active case in the Antigonish and Guysborough Community Health Network.

This comes as Nova Scotia confirms 148 new cases of COVID-19 today, including 17 in the Eastern Zone – which covers all of eastern Nova Scotia and Cape Breton. According to the NSHA, there are 59 active cases, 25 people in hospital and five people in the Intensive Care Unit, in the Eastern Zone.

During a media briefing yesterday in Halifax, Premier Iain Rankin and Nova Scotia’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Robert Strang, warned Nova Scotians the number would rise due to a backlog of approximately 45,000 unprocessed test results.

“He know that there will be positive cases in this backlog and we need to be prepared for substantially higher case numbers in the next few days,” Strang said.

The province is asking Nova Scotians to use pop-up testing sites instead of booking a COVID-19 lab test over the next few days.

“It’s critically important that the capacity we have at our primary assessment centres is reserved for the people who need to have the more PCR testing,” Strang noted.

Those who will be tested include anyone with symptoms, this means: anyone who has been notified that they are a close contact of a known case; anyone who has been at an exposure location; and anyone who has travelled outside Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador, according to the province.

Anyone else who already has an appointment booked should cancel it following instructions in their confirmation email, the province said, noting efforts are being made to increase rapid testing capacity around the province.

Due to the increased number of COVID-19 cases in in the province and to address the COVID response, the NSHA said it is making temporary changes to some services in all zones.

The NSHA said surgeries that require admission will be reduced temporarily at hospitals, including St. Martha’s Regional Hospital in Antigonish.

Surgeons’ offices will be notifying patients whose surgeries must be temporarily postponed and will attempt to provide as much advanced notice as possible, the NSHA said.

A limited number of priority surgeries requiring admission will occur each day, for those requiring urgent or cancer-related procedures, the NSHA said, noting that day surgeries will continue at this time at these sites, unless further reductions are required.  

The need for temporary surgical reductions will be assessed on an ongoing basis, said the health authority noted. They said pre-admission appointments and other surgery related clinics, such as surgical consults, are continuing at this time.

Surgery patients who have been scheduled to undergo pre-operative COVID-19 testing 72 hours prior to surgery, are required to complete this testing, the NSHA explained. They said surgical patients are reminded to limit their exposure to others in the days leading up to their surgery, to the greatest extent possible, to minimize the risk of being exposed to COVID-19.

Scheduled outpatient care will also be reduced to support staff redeployment in some areas of the province, the province said, and patients will be notified of any changes impacting them.