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Feb. 24 update: concerns for community spread grow as Nova Scotia reports three new COVID-19 cases

Medical laboratory technologist Kendra MacDonald prepares COVID-19 sample at the QEII Health Sciences Centre’s Microbiology Lab in Halifax. Photo by Communications Nova Scotia
Medical laboratory technologist Kendra MacDonald prepares COVID-19 sample at the QEII Health Sciences Centre’s Microbiology Lab in Halifax. - Communications Nova Scotia

A number of COVID-19 cases where the source of infection continues to be unknown is causing concerns about community transmission in Nova Scotia.

Nova Scotia has reported seven cases as being under investigation over the past week: five in the central zone and two in the western zone.

At a live briefing Wednesday, Dr. Robert Strang, the province’s chief medical officer of health, said at least three of these cases don’t have a clear link to travel or a previously reported case.

He added that many of the positive cases reported recently, while adhering to gathering limits, have been socializing frequently with multiple groups of people.

“Based on the ongoing investigations, we do expect higher case numbers in the coming days,” he said.

Strang said people should slow down their social activities and keep their social groups to a consistent group of 10.

"Even though there's signs of hope on the horizon, we really have the next two to three months that we need to stick with it," he said.

More testing to fight COVID-19 spread

Strang said anyone who has been at a social gathering with someone outside their consistent group of 10 should get tested within one week of that interaction especially if people didn’t have a mask on, said Strang.

People who have more than one consistent social bubble should get tested more frequently.

“The greater the number of people you have social contact with, whether it’s through work or social activities, the greater your risk and the more important and frequent regular testing should be,” said Strang.

With questions around community transmission, the province has been monitoring a cluster of cases in Beaver Bank which were reported last week. Public Health tested 93 close contacts and all of them were negative except for four tests still being processed. But community testing in the area has revealed another positive case whose source of infection is under investigation.

To detect any potential spread, Nova Scotia is extablishing a primary assessment centre in Lower Sackville and Beaver Bank. The province is also asking anyone between Wolfville and Berwick to get tested as there has been a cluster of cases with unknown sources of infection in the area. People can get tested at any of the assessment centres already available in these areas. Mobile testing units will also be dispatched to increase testing capacity.

Three new cases

Three new cases of COVID-19 have been identified Wednesday, bringing the total number of new cases this week to seven.

The cases reported Wednesday are all in the central health zone.  One is a close contact of a previously reported case. The other two cases are under investigation. 

There are 21 known active cases in the province, with one person in the ICU.

Nova Scotia Health Authority's labs completed 2,754 tests on Feb. 23. It’s the highest number of daily tests conducted since December 2020.

As of Wednesday, 29,237 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered. Of those, 11,658 Nova Scotians have received their second dose.

Nova Scotia has completed 197,168 tests since Oct. 1, 2020. There have been 527 positive COVID-19 cases and no deaths.

Testing encouraged

Provincial health authorities strongly encourage Nova Scotians to seek asymptomatic COVID-19 testing; particularly if they have had several social interactions, even within their own social circles. Appointments can be booked at covid-self-assessment.novascotia.ca, by choosing the asymptomatic option.

Book an online test on the self-assessment website if in the past 48 hours you have had or you are currently experiencing:

  • fever (i.e. chills/sweats) or cough (new or worsening)

Or two or more of the following symptoms (new or worsening):

  • sore throat
  • runny nose/nasal congestion
  • headache
  • shortness of breath/difficulty breathing

Call 811 if you cannot access the online self-assessment or wish to speak with a nurse about your symptoms.

Nova Scotians can find accurate, up-to-date information, handwashing posters and fact sheets at novascotia.ca/coronavirus.

Businesses and other organizations can find information to help them safely reopen and operate at novascotia.ca/reopening-nova-scotia.

Nebal Snan is a local journalism initiative reporter, a position funded by the federal government.

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1 being least likely, and 10 being most likely

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