COVID cases and news for Nova Scotia on Monday, Jan 10

All the information as we can provide while NS struggles to keep up with the pandemic’s omicron wave.


Omicron's arrival means Nova Scotia is overwhelmed by COVID and its data-dissemination abilities are severely compromised. For the time being, these are the only infographics we can share with any confidence of accuracy: New and active cases    Nova Scotia’s third and fourth waves  Canada’s fourth wave

3 COVID deaths

Today the province is announcing that three men have died from COVID, bringing Nova Scotia's official pandemic death count to 115. One man was in his 60s, another in his 70s and the third in his 80s, and they lived, respectively, in the Eastern, Northern and Central health zones.

“The omicron wave has taken three Nova Scotians, and I’m devastated for the loved ones they are leaving behind,” premier Tim Houston says in the province's daily COVID report. “This is exactly why restrictions are needed—as another layer to protect those who are most vulnerable to severe disease. So please, do your part to keep your family, friends and community members safe.”

The province's chief medical officer of health is also quoted in the Monday update. “My heart goes out to the family and friends of the three Nova Scotians who died,” says Robert Strang. “There’s no doubt this wave is very different, but there’s also no doubt that the virus can have very severe impacts on some people. We all have a responsibility to protect the people around us who need it and our healthcare system. Follow restrictions and get your vaccine—whether it’s your first, second or booster dose.”


59 people in hospital

The basic omicron situation is that while it's clearly more contagious than any other COVID variant, it seems to make people—particularly vaccinated people—less sick. But the issue is whether the gentleness of symptoms can keep up with the pace of infection. If it's twice as infectious but half as severe, we should see the same amount of hospitalization as any other strain of the disease. If it's twice as infectious but a quarter as severe, there would be fewer hospitalizations; if it's four times as infectious and half as severe, there would be more hospitalizations.

The world is actively learning what this ratio looks like in practise. Currently in Nova Scotia, hospitalizations are on the rise. Today there are 59 COVID patients in hospital, up from 48 yesterday. (The number of those people sick enough to be in ICU is down from seven yesterday to two today, although there are three deaths today). Managing hospitalizations is going to be a very big issue here in coming days and weeks. The province has even started breaking down hospitalizations by vaccination status, so we are preparing a graph to help you understand what's happening.


816 new infections

Nova Scotia may have moved new cases to the nether reaches of today's COVID report (see "Provincial reporting switches gears" below), but some Coast reporting habits are hard to break. Today the province is announcing 816 new cases, down from both the 1,145 cases reported Saturday and the 837 infections Sunday. The 7-day average is now 869 cases per day.

"There are 526 cases in Central Zone, 110 cases in Eastern Zone, 70 cases in Northern Zone and 110 cases in Western Zone," says the province, which estimates there are 6,906 active cases. That is the most active cases Nova Scotia has ever had during the pandemics.

Today the province is also reporting new outbreaks at three hospitals: Northside General Hospital, Aberdeen Hospital in New Glasgow and Abbie J. Lane Memorial in Halifax's QEII system. And there are new cases in ongoing outbreaks in two wards at the Victoria General and at the Infirmary in Halifax, at New Waterford Consolidated Hospital and at Northside General Hospital.


Provincial reporting switches gears

At the end of December, Doctor Strang started talking about not reporting daily infection numbers because the omicron wave is a different beast from previous variants in the pandemic. We aren't done with case numbers yet, but today the province unveiled a different format to its standard daily COVID reports that emphasizes hospitalizations and downplays new infections.

"837 New Cases of COVID-19" was the headline on yesterday's Nova Scotia report. Today the headline is "29 New Hospital Admissions, 19 Discharges, Three Deaths," and the information about new cases is presented near the bottom of the report, buried in a paragraph about testing stats. "On January 9, Nova Scotia Health Authority labs completed 4,063 tests. An additional 816 new lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 are being reported."

Lab-confirmed cases? To the best of our (admittedly imperfect) recollection, new COVID infections have never been dressed up as lab-confirmed cases, further obscuring the information that has been at the heart of Nova Scotia's disease reporting for nearly two years. Strang hasn't yet gotten his wish to stop reporting cases, but the province is definitely trying to change the conversation.


Comparing active cases in the third and fourth waves

In December, the town of Antigonish became ground zero for an inter-provincial COVID outbreak due to a weekend of superspreader events connected to the annual presentation of X-Rings at St. Francis Xavier University. But how bad is the outbreak, really? The following chart lets you compare Nova Scotia's active cases, dating from the third wave in April through the fourth wave and its infection Xplosion, using case data from provincial pandemic reports. The chart will be updated when provincial reporting allows. Note: From Dec 10 through Dec 22, Nova Scotia was too overwhelmed by new COVID cases to report recoveries or an official active case count; the active case numbers on this graph for those dates have been calculated by adding each day's new cases to the last official active count, and are therefore a maximum active caseload. Starting Dec 23, the province is issuing an "estimated" number of active cases.

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New and active cases visualized

Nova Scotia's third wave of COVID grew in April, 2021, peaked in May (227 new cases in one day was the maximum) and subsided in June. On July 17, the province reached five active cases—its lowest level in more than eight months—and an election was called. So when it came time to reset The Coast's chart comparing daily new cases with that day’s active caseload, in order to better reflect disease levels after the third wave, we started from July 17. Two months later, on September 14, the province formally announced the arrival of the fourth wave of COVID. The dark purple line tracks the rise and fall of daily new infections reported by the province; the green area is the province's caseload. In mid-November, The Coast added a golden line to show the 7-day moving average of daily new cases, effectively a smoothed-out version of the purple line that puts the ups and downs into bigger context. Click or hover over any point on the graph and the detail for that moment will pop up. To focus on just some information, click the legend at the top left of the graph to hide or reveal that data set. Note: As of July 23, 2021, the province stopped updating case numbers on weekends. And you can click here for the version of this graph that includes the third wave and its May 10 crest of 1,655 active cases. Also, from Dec 10 through Dec 22, Nova Scotia was too overwhelmed by new COVID cases to report recoveries or an official active case count; the active case numbers on this graph for those dates have been calculated by adding each day's new cases to the last official active count, and are therefore a maximum active caseload. Starting Dec 23, the province is issuing an "estimated" number of active cases.

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Canadian cases 2021-22

There was a point in July 2021, when the delta variant was causing an increase in COVID infections around the world, that Canada seemed safe from the fourth wave. By August, however, that point had passed, and case numbers around the country started to rise again. This graph charts the number of new infections every day in each province and territory, using the 7-day moving average to mitigate single-day anomalies (including a lack of weekend reporting in several jurisdictions including British Columbia and Nova Scotia). To focus on individual places, click the place names at the top of the chart to turn that data on or off.

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Click here for the previous COVID-19 news roundup, for the January 8-9, 2022 weekend.

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