NS reports 13 COVID-19 deaths, 226 daily average of cases in weekly update

Nova Scotia is reporting 13 deaths caused by COVID-19 for the seven-day period ending May 23.

Nova Scotia health authority labs confirmed 1,584 new cases of the virus that week, an average of 226 new cases a day, according to a news release from the province Thursday.

There were 40 new hospitalizations as the result of the virus for that seven-day period.

The number of new cases continues to decline, along with the number of hospitalizations, the release said.

The province said hospitalizations due to COVID-19 are nearly 11 times higher, and the risk of death is 114 times higher, for people 70 and older compared to younger people.

A news release from the health authority on Thursday said 287 people currently in hospital have COVID-19.

  • 33 people are in hospital due to COVID-19, including eight in intensive care.
  • 171 people are in hospital for something else but have COVID-19.
  • 83 people contracted COVID-19 after being admitted to hospital.

Hospitalization numbers for the IWK Health Center are not included in the Nova Scotia Health figures. CBC News has requested the numbers from that facility and is awaiting a response.

Staffing numbers for the health authority were not included because of a technical issue, a release said.

Dr. Lisa Barrett, an infectious disease expert, said the current COVID-19 wave seems to be regressing. However, she said fewer people seem to be wearing masks and gatherings have increased, so it’s taking a long time for the wave to come to an end.

She said Public Health is still recommending masks be worn in indoor spaces after the mask mandate was lifted in schools this week.

“Let’s hope most of those kids are still going to wear masks in those indoor spaces for the remainder of the school year,” said Barrett.

No briefing

For the first time in many weeks the province did not hold a teleconference to address the latest figures and take questions from members of the media.

Following the launch of an affordable housing initiative in New Glasgow on Thursday, Premier Tim Houston indicated the province plans to end COVID-19 briefings altogether.

“I do feel very strongly that Nova Scotians have the tools they need to keep themselves and their families safe,” Houston said. “The reality is we’re moving to a different stage of the pandemic, and we continue to move forward.”

Thursday’s news release also indicated the province’s online public COVID-19 dashboard would continue to be updated until the end of June.

Liberal Leader Iain Rankin said there is “really no downside” to having public briefings.

“I don’t understand why they would completely remove themselves from that public accountability measure,” Rankin said.

“If it’s not the premier, at least the minister of health or other public servants could be made available, and it doesn’t have to be weekly.”

The province is encouraging people to get vaccinated if they haven’t already. Those who are 70 or older are encouraged to get a second booster dose.

According to the province, 65.6 per cent of Nova Scotians 18 and older have received at least one booster shot and 59,631 people have had a second booster shot.

The province said unvaccinated people are at the highest risk of severe illness.

Since the beginning of the Omicron wave in Nova Scotia on Dec. 8, 2021:

  • The median age of PCR-confirmed cases of COVID-19 is 43.
  • The median age of hospitalizations is 71.
  • The median age of reported deaths is 81.

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