NS says child younger than 5 in hospital with COVID-19, total now at 60 – Halifax

Nova Scotia reports that a child under five is one of 60 people currently hospitalized for: COVID-19, as the province’s top doctors warn that those who underestimate the Omicron variant are “absolutely wrong.”


During a briefing on Wednesday, Dr. Robert Strang said Nova Scotia is in the middle of the peak of the Omicron wave and has “some challenging days ahead” in terms of a strained health care system.

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Veteran emergency room doctor in NS says Omicron has ‘overloaded’ the already vulnerable system

He added that there are “much higher daily cases than is sustainable in the long term.”

On any given day, he said, between 500 and 700 Nova Scotia Health workers have been isolated because of COVID-19 protocols.

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“If you think Omicron isn’t important, you’re totally wrong,” he said.

“There is no doubt that we are in a very serious situation – the most serious we have found ourselves in during this entire pandemic.”

Of the 60 people hospitalized due to COVID-19 complications, five are in the ICU. A quarter of the patients are not vaccinated and the mean age is 66 years.

Schools will reopen on Monday

Speaking at the conference, Prime Minister Tim Houston claimed that public schools will indeed reopen for classroom learning next Monday as planned.

He added that the HEPA ventilation systems for 71 schools that needed them are now on the ground and will be installed by the time students arrive.

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Houston said that while the systems were not a necessity, they were part of a layered approach that is “above and beyond” due to concerns about school ventilation.

“For me personally, we know that these machines will give people a lot of confidence and we know they will do their job to increase people’s safety,” he said.

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“I am pleased that we have been able to work with suppliers and that the team has been able to achieve this so quickly.”

Also, three-layer masks will be made available to teachers and students.

The county has distributed 25,000 rapid tests to nearly 400 schools based on enrollment, he said, but their use will be limited to those who are symptomatic.

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He reiterated the claim that schools are the best place for children, that they are ‘where many children are warmest’, and that ‘many children get their food at school’.

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But he also said outbreaks are expected.

“Our schools are safe, we are moving forward. I think we have shown that we will if it is necessary to close a school,” he told reporters.

“If there are operational problems or problems with outbreaks, we will take steps to close schools. And we expect that will have to happen.”

Click to Play Video: 'Nova Scotia School Ventilation Upgrades in the Works'

Nova Scotia School Ventilation Upgrades in the Works

Nova Scotia School Ventilation Upgrades in the Works

Change of test strategy

Both Strang and Houston stressed the need to change the county’s rapid testing strategy due to delivery issues.

Houston said the province currently distributes 830,000 tests per week to testing centers, outbreak response, Nova Scotia Health workplaces and other high-risk work areas.

“It’s not the time for everyone to test every day or every week. There was a time for that, but that time is over,” he said.

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Read more:

Atlantic Canada’s vaunted COVID-Zero strategy is no match for the Omicron variant

The province expects 3.6 million tests from the federal government this month, but delivery times are constantly changing. Strang called the county’s current offerings “precarious.”

“Given the amount of virus circulating in our province, we can no longer identify or need to identify every case of COVID,” he added.

“We need to use rapid tests more efficiently and equitably.”

Currently, Nova Scotians must make an appointment to pick up a rapid test, and only those who meet certain requirements — such as being part of a vulnerable population — are eligible.

“This is the reality of dealing with limited offer and while you may not be happy about this, we all want you to understand and accept that maybe others should be a higher priority than us,” Strang said.

Click to play video: 'Feds promise 140 million rapid tests in weeks amid high demand'

Feds promise 140 million rapid tests in weeks on high demand

Feds promise 140 million rapid tests in weeks on high demand

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