Nova Scotia shouldn’t expect any new restrictions out of a COVID-19 briefing Monday afternoon, the province’s chief medical officer of health told Global News Morning.
In an interview, Dr. Robert Strang said the high case counts the province has been seeing recently is “not totally unexpected.” He expects many of the 1,893 cases announced over the weekend are related to holiday gatherings from the previous week.
“This is all about continuing to try to find the balance,” Strang said. “We need to accept that Omicron is widespread and that any time we’re out in public or doing activities there’s a strong possibility we might be exposed.”
Strang, along with Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston, are expected to hold a COVID-19 news briefing Monday afternoon. The event is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. and will be live streamed here.
“We’re not looking, at this point in time, to increase restrictions,” he said. “We expected to see these spikes, and a week from now, maybe a little spike from New Year’s.”
He said the key is to continue to watch hospitalizations, and noted that only a small percentage of cases being reported are going to hospital. Strang said Nova Scotians should continue to follow the public health measures currently in place.
“Our focus is really on that severe illness and protecting those that are most vulnerable, and we are going to have to tolerate a fair degree of spread of COVID in communities, and we can expect it to go on for the next few weeks,” he said.
While public school students in some provinces, like New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador, will begin their winter semesters online, Strang said the plan in Nova Scotia is still for students to return to in-person learning on Jan. 10.
He said the province wants to avoid the “significant harms” that happens when kids aren’t in school, and said COVID-19 largely does not produce severe illness among children.
“We have to accept that there’s going to be some spread of the virus within schools,” he said. “We are building layers of protection in those schools, but it’s critically important … to have them in school whenever possible.”
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As well, while other provinces are shortening their COVID-19 isolation periods for people who are fully vaccinated, Strang said that’s still under review and there will be more news about that in the coming days.
Strang expects the high spike in cases to begin to “settle down over the next week or so,” and said the highly transmissible Omicron variant is spelling out the end of the pandemic and the beginning of living with COVID-19.
“Omicron is going to be the way out of the pandemic. It’s going to be rough for the next few weeks, but I think it does create the path out,” he said.
“The virus that causes COVID is not going to disappear, but we are going to be able to reach a point where I really believe … by spring, we’ll be in a place where we can say now we can live with COVID, we don’t need to have all the restrictions.”
The province also announced Monday that those aged 30 and over are now eligible for a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, if at least 168 days have passed after their primary series.
This means about 451,000 Nova Scotians 30 and up are eligible to schedule a booster dose this month, according to a release from the province.
It said it’s “strongly recommended” that those under the age of 30 receive the Pfizer vaccine for their booster, as recent evidence shows there’s an increased risk of myocarditis/pericarditis in young adults from the Moderna vaccine as compared to the Pfizer vaccine.
People who received two doses of AstraZeneca or the one-dose Janssen vaccine can still schedule a booster dose of an mRNA vaccine.
Frontline healthcare workers and designated caregivers are still eligible for a booster shot regardless of age, the release said.
“Frontline and community healthcare providers who are under the age of 30 and eligible for a booster dose should be prepared to provide proof of designation and are encouraged to bring their professional licence, work identification or letter from their employer to their appointment,” it said.
Booster doses can be booked online or by calling 1-833-797-7772.
“Nova Scotians are encouraged to be patient as vaccine appointments are currently limited,” it said. “If you cannot find an appointment in your area, more will be added. Appointments are added to clinics across the province on an ongoing basis.”
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