COVID case counts climbing as hospitals at or close to capability in Atlantic area

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Halifax –

Numbers released on Saturday show continued growth in COVID-19 cases in Atlantic Canada, with hospitals across the region reporting nearing or exceeding capacity.

Nova Scotia reported 1,145 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, with public health urging those who test positive to inform those they have been in close contact with.

The province says it is now limiting contact tracing to long-term care facilities, health facilities, correctional facilities, shelters, and other group settings.

Meanwhile, the New Brunswick province updated the numbers on Saturday to suggest there were 421 new cases and one new death.

The number of hospitalized patients rose from 69 to 80, 17 of them in intensive care and 11 on ventilators.

New Brunswick Health Secretary Dorothy Shephard said Friday she thought it likely that the health system will soon be “tested like never before” as nearly 350 health workers in the province are unemployed due to the virus.

The Vitalite Health Network has reported that half of its hospitals have more than 100 percent occupancy. The Miramichi Regional Hospital also has overcapacity, with other hospitals on the Horizon Health Network claiming their capacity is between 90 and 97 percent.

Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, said earlier this week that a similar situation was looming in the provincial hospitals and urged residents to avoid emergency care unless they have an urgent health problem.

“Omicron has a significant impact on our healthcare workforce,” said Strang at a news conference on Wednesday. “Our hospitals are congested and for Nova Scotians it means waiting too long for care or canceling long-awaited tests or procedures.”

“The reality is that our health system is currently very inflexible.”

On Friday, Nova Scotia Health reported that approximately 430 employees were unavailable to work in the central zone.

Earlier this week, the province announced that schools would only teach online until January 17, and extended the existing restrictions – including restrictions on the number of people in restaurants and group meetings – until the end of the month.

But Nova Scotia allows people who test positive and are vaccinated to stay in isolation for just seven days instead of ten.

Newfoundland and Labrador reported 412 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, bringing the total number of active infections to 4,664. There are four hospital admissions in the province.

On Prince Edward Island, the province announced that a number of its health facilities were temporarily closed overnight due to a storm, including the COVID-19 vaccine booking line and some vaccine clinics.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on January 8, 2022.