COVID cases, hospitalizations and news for Nova Scotia on Thursday, Jan 20

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: Omicron hospitalizations    New and active cases    Nova Scotia’s third and fourth waves    Canada’s fourth wave

3 more deaths

Yesterday we reported that Nova Scotia announced COVID deaths for the third day in a row. Such a deadly string of days happened the week earlier, too, but before that the province hadn't had deaths on three consecutive days since May 2021. But today Nova Scotia is announcing three more deaths, making for a four-day streak of deaths, which Nova Scotia hasn't experienced since May 2020.

Back nearly two years ago in the first wave of the pandemic, when people were washing groceries and vaccines hadn't been invented, there was a string of five days from May 1 through May 5 when the province reported COVID death(s) every day. A total of 13 people died those five days.

Now, when more than 90 percent of Nova Scotians have at least one vaccine dose and over 30 percent have three doses, in four consecutive days 11 people have died in total. Witness omicron, the supposedly less severe, definitely deadly variant.

“This virus has taken three more Nova Scotians, and I’m devastated for the families and friends they are leaving behind,” says premier Tim Houston in today's COVID update. “Everyone needs to take the omicron wave seriously and work together to protect our most vulnerable Nova Scotians, our healthcare system and communities.”

The people who died were a woman in her 50s who lived in Central Zone, and a man and woman each in their 70s, the woman from Northern zone and the man in Eastern. In total 128 Nova Scotians have been reported as dying from COVID during the pandemic.

In less important news, there are 696 new infections today, up from the 527 announced yesterday, with the province estimating 5,430 active cases. Nova Scotia hospitals have 85 patients in a COVID unit, and 12 of them are sick enough to be in intensive care (up from 83 COVID patients and 11 in ICU yesterday). In total, 269 COVID-related patients are in hospital, a figure on the rise (see below) from 207 patients last Thursday.


Hospitalizations during omicron

Early in 2022, Nova Scotia subtly shifted attention from new COVID cases to people actually in hospital with the disease, and as part of that shift started reporting the vaccination status of patients "receiving specialized care in a COVID-19 designated unit." On Jan 12—the day the bars on the following chart jump way up—the province added two more categories of hospitalized COVID patient to its daily reports. One is "people who were identified as positive upon arrival to hospital but were admitted for another medical reason or people who were admitted for COVID-19 but no longer require specialized care." (These patients are categorized as "Non-severe COVID case" on the chart.) The other category is category is "people who contracted COVID-19 after being admitted to hospital," as the province puts it, termed "Caught COVID in hospital" on the chart. You can filter categories in and out by clicking the labels near the top of the chart, but whatever numbers you are considering, the province points out it's "important to note that less than 10 percent of Nova Scotians are unvaccinated."

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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 yesterday's COVID-19 news roundup, for January 19, 2022.

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