Researchers analyzing COVID-19 data from across Canada ranked Nova Scotia highest in the country in its risk index for the week of August 5.
In the previous index for the week of July 29, COVID-19 Resources Canada rated Nova Scotia very high on its risk index. The rest of the country received a high or elevated rating.
The latest rating places Nova Scotia high on the hazard index, but the province still has the highest score in Canada.
The group gets funding from the Public Health Agency of Canada.
It comes as Nova Scotia reported no new deaths this week in its COVID-19 update, the first since January 3.
The Nova Scotia Department of Health and Welfare said it could not comment on the index because “we are not aware of the data sources or the methodology used to analyze the data.”
“In the first wave of Omicron and even to some extent in the second wave of Omicron, Nova Scotia had fewer cases per capita than much of the rest of Canada,” said Tara Moriarty, an infectious disease expert at the University of Toronto and the co-Founder of COVID-19 Resources Canada.
“Nova Scotia hung on and fared better for longer during the first and part of the second wave of Omicron than many other provinces.
“A second part of the problem is that there were more people getting infected for the first time in Nova Scotia than in the rest of the country and I think part of that is why Nova Scotia is doing worse this time around.”
To come up with the risk index, Moriarty said his group looks at infection rates, vaccine protection, impacts on the health care system and deaths.
For the past few weeks, Moriarty said infection rates are high in Nova Scotia. He said COVID-19 is showing up in sewage, reported hospitalizations compiled by the Canadian Society for Critical Care, deaths, intensive care admissions and vaccination rates.
“All the indicators, especially for estimated actual infections and sewage, have been high in Nova Scotia for quite some time, which partly explains why Nova Scotia is stuck at this high level,” Moriarty said.
COVID-19 Resources Canada updates its risk index once a week. Moriarty said that while smaller stocks tend to have more volatile outcomes, larger stocks don’t see as much ups and downs.
“We don’t see it with Nova Scotia or Saskatchewan … most of the provinces that are north of 700,000 people, the trends are much more stable,” Moriarty said.
“PEI is a small place, for example, and if you have a big event in Charlottetown that gets a lot of streaming, you can see a really big effect, but it may not ripple out to the rest of the province.”
Moriarty said Nova Scotia has been consistent with its index score over the past two weeks. COVID-19 Resources Canada said that if the score declines, “it’s quite reasonable to assume that it will continue to improve for a while and not bounce too much.”
Impacts on the health system
Halifax Atlantic MLA Brendan Maguire said he was not surprised to see Nova Scotia at the top of the index. He said healthcare professionals and frontline workers have been sounding the alarm for a while.
“We’re seeing an impact on our surgeries, we’re seeing an impact on emergency rooms, so we’ve raised this in the legislature that COVID is here, it’s bad, and there’s just no acknowledgment,” Maguire said. “It shows that what we are saying is true and hopefully it is an eye opener for the government.”
Maguire said there is a need for the province to collect and share more COVID-19 data to help people make decisions.
“At the very least, what they could be doing is encouraging people to take a little more caution when they’re out in public,” he said.
The Nova Scotia Department of Health and Welfare encouraged Nova Scotians to obtain their data from the provincial and federal governments.
“Nova Scotians are reminded that the virus continues to impact our province. They should continue to take steps to minimize their risk of exposure and that of those around them by wearing a mask when in public spaces and staying home when not they do.” feel well and get vaccinated when eligible,” a Health and Wellness spokesperson said in an email.
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