During a rare Friday afternoon COVID-19 briefing, Nova Scotia top doc Robert Strang said the outbreak at St. Francis Xavier University—now totalling 114 cases—is “quite likely” linked to new cases in the Central zone.
The chief medical officer says this is for two reasons: some of the cases that have been investigated are people who live in Central zone, which includes Halifax and the surrounding area, but attended the X-Ring events in early December. As well, if a student at St. FX who is living in Antigonish has a Halifax address connected to their health card, they will be added to the Central zone tally.
Strang also said that there are currently two cases of COVID-19 in both Ontario and Prince Edward Island that are connected to the same gatherings, meaning those cases will not be reflected in the provincial count.
The province is reporting 123 new cases from the lab Friday, which means not all of these cases have yet been investigated and documented in Panorama. “While we get through the backlog of cases, it’s more accurate to share the numbers coming through the lab,” Strang said at the impromptu briefing, called just an hour before it began this afternoon.
Given the outbreak, the province is asking that anyone who’s been identified as a close contact or who was present at a high-risk exposure site isolate for at least 72 hours until they can be PCR tested.
At this stage Strang had little to say about the enforcement investigations which are ongoing. The chief medical officer said early next week he will speak with event spaces, restaurants and bars to work to make a plan for solidifying mask-wearing rules in situations where people are eating and drinking. Strang acknowledged it’s a bit of a gray area.
At this time there has been no impact on the health care system in the Antigonish region due to this outbreak. Strang says we have vaccines to thank for that.
“We’re seeing the protective impact of the vaccine… we’re not seeing people in emergency rooms, we’re not seeing them hospitalized. That’s (because) this is a younger age group, by and large, but also the majority of these people are vaccinated,” he said.
“That doesn’t mean the vaccine isn’t working, it shows the protective effect of the vaccine, especially against severe illness.”
Of the 123 new cases of COVID reported Friday, 60 are in the Eastern zone, 56 are in the Central zone, 6 are in the Northern zone and one is in the Western zone.