Officials in Nova Scotia say there has been a “marked decrease” in new COVID-19 cases, however hospitalizations have gone up and there are 24 new deaths to report in the weekly epidemiologic update.
For the seven-day period ending April 25, the province recorded 5,436 new PCR-confirmed cases. That’s compared to 7,508 positive tests in the previous report.
In addition to the 24 deaths, there were 91 new hospitalizations due to the virus — bringing the total number of patients in hospital to 339, with 10 in intensive care. The update states increases in hospitalizations and deaths are “not unexpected” because severe outcomes lag behind new infections.
“There is a delay in developing severe outcomes, which involves both hospitalization and death, so the number of cases this week would not have also been hospitalized and died this week. You need to look at it over time,” Dr. Shelley Deeks, the province’s deputy chief medical officer of health, told reporters on Thursday.
“What I expect will happen in the next couple of weeks is we will start to see a downward trend for hospitalizations.”
The data suggests that PCR-positive test results peaked in early to mid-April, and is now on the decline. The province notes that the number of cases linked to long-term care and residential care facility outbreaks have also stabilized.
Deeks said all this suggests the peak of the sixth wave “is behind us.”
The province considers the sixth wave to have begun on March 1.
“While the increase in hospitalizations and deaths is not unexpected, they are not insignificant, either. Behind each of these 24 COVID-19 deaths is a family grieving an incalculable loss,” she added in a news release.
“It is those families and those loved ones that we should keep in mind. That’s why we get vaccinated. That’s why we wear a mask. That’s why we stay home when we’re sick.”
Changes in how hospitalizations and deaths reported
The province has also changed the age groups in how it reports hospitalizations and deaths “to better align with vaccine rollout.”
Hospitalizations will now be reported in four groups: under 18, 18 to 49, 50 to 69, and 70 and over.
Meanwhile, deaths will be reported in three groups: under 50, 50 to 69 and 70 and over.
Officials say about 64.7 per cent of Nova Scotians 18 and older have received at least one booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Currently a second booster dose is available to those 70 and older, and Deeks said about 14,000 of those shots have been administered so far.
The report notes that those who received three doses had an 85.2 per cent lower risk of hospitalization and a 92.7 per cent lower risk of death than those who were unvaccinated or had only one dose.
Health-care staff off work
Nova Scotia Health reported 359 employees of work Thursday due to testing positive for COVID-19, awaiting results of a test, or being exposed to a member of their household with COVID-19.
Most of those employees are in Central Zone, which includes Halifax, at 167.
— with a file from The Canadian Press
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