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Nova Scotia's chief medical officer warns public against COVID-19 complacency

HALIFAX — Nova Scotians are too complacent about COVID-19 ahead of a new wave of the disease expected in the fall, the province’s chief medical officer warned Friday.
Dr. Robert Strang, fields a question at a COVID-19 briefing in Halifax on Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021. Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health says he is concerned the public has become too complacent about COVID-19 over the last few months. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

HALIFAX — Nova Scotians are too complacent about COVID-19 ahead of a new wave of the disease expected in the fall, the province’s chief medical officer warned Friday.

And while the overall COVID-19 situation in the province has improved over the past two years, the novel coronavirus remains a significant health concern that requires the public's attention, Dr. Robert Strang told reporters.

“I am concerned that over the past few months we have collectively become too complacent and unconcerned about COVID,” he said.

Like the rest of Canada, Nova Scotia has recently experienced a seventh wave of the disease, involving the Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5. That wave has begun to wane, Strang said. “However, we still have a lot of COVID-19 around as the summer ends and it remains important for all Nova Scotians to take COVID seriously.”

Strang said that with a possible new wave of the disease in the fall and winter months, it’s important people continue to wear masks in crowded public places, such as malls and grocery stores, and to get vaccinated.

He said a return to public health restrictions isn’t necessary at this point but that people have to take responsibility for protecting themselves and others. Another surge of COVID-19 combined with influenza could mean significant challenges for an already strained health system, Strang said.

“The main question is, are we going to get another significant change in variant or are we going to continue to have these Omicron-like variants where there is actually more protection from vaccine as well as ongoing infection?” he said.

The province announced Friday that more doses of COVID-19 vaccine will be made available beginning next month for children and adults. Starting Sept. 6, children aged five to 11 will be eligible for a first booster dose of the Pfizer pediatric COVID-19 vaccine, while people aged 12 and over can get another dose of vaccine regardless of the number of booster doses they have previously received.

Provincial health officials recommend that people wait 168 days between COVID-19 vaccine shots. People who have become infected with the virus should also wait 168 days from their infection before receiving their next dose of vaccine.

Meanwhile, the provincial health authority said that as of Thursday, the province had 297 people in hospital with COVID-19, including 49 patients who were admitted because of the disease. There are currently eight patients in intensive care because of the virus. As well, 241 employees are off work after being diagnosed with COVID-19 or after being exposed to the virus.

In data also released Thursday on the province’s dashboard, officials reported eight new deaths in the province linked to the disease — down from the 11 deaths in the previous weekly report. A daily average of 194 lab-confirmed cases was also reported.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 26, 2022.

Keith Doucette, The Canadian Press