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Weekly reporting of COVID data a 'necessary shift': Strang

Dr. Shelley Deeks added weekly reports help to highlight overall trends without getting caught up in day-to-day fluctuations
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Chief medical officer of health Dr. Robert Strang

The move to reporting COVID data on a weekly basis, instead of releasing information every weekday, is a "big and necessary shift" according to the province's chief medical officer of health, Dr. Robert Strang.

Prior to March 10, officials had been reporting COVID data Monday to Friday, but that information now only comes out every Thursday.

As the number of cases continues to surge in the province, some -- including Liberal leader Iain Rankin -- have called on the province to go back to releasing information more frequently.

However at a media briefing on Thursday, Strang said that's not necessary now that we've moved from the acute response phase of the pandemic to a transition phase.

"Last week we shared our weekly epidemiologic summary publicly for the first time," he said at a Thursday media briefing. "It's the same report my team and I use for surveillance and monitoring. We've made it available and will continue to do so, on our website."

"I believe Nova Scotians should have access to the same data as public health."

Strang was joined by the deputy chief medical officer of health, who explained when COVID-19 first arrived, health officials needed the daily data reports as they quickly tried to figure out the virus and its impacts on Nova Scotians.

"The goal for a lot of that time was to identify and isolate every single case of COVID-19 in the province. That was when we thought we could eliminate this virus," explained Dr. Shelley Deeks.

However, now that we've entered the transition phase of the pandemic, she said the goal is different because "we are no longer trying to identify every case of COVID."

"We all know that there is a lot of virus out there and we do not need daily numbers to tell us that," she added. "Now we are looking at severe outcomes, like hospitalization and death."

She said weekly reports help to highlight overall trends without getting caught up in day-to-day fluctuations.

This week's data, covering March 30 to April 5, showed eight COVID deaths and 67 new hospitalizations.

There were also 6991positive PCR tests, which is a significant jump up from 4,188 the week before.

Deeks said that surge in cases is not unexpected with the highly transmissible Omicron variant.

She said those who are older or have health issues continue to be at greater risk, but our province's high rate of vaccination is protecting most of those who get infected from having severe outcomes.

"The risk of hospitalization with Omicron is 84 per cent lower for people with three doses of vaccine, compared to people who are either unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated," Deeks stated.

"The risk of dying is even further reduced. It's 92 per cent lower with three doses of vaccine compared to populations who are either unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated."

Dr. Strang said, after two years of living with this virus, we all know what measures to take to get through this wave.

"It is time to shift the control of COVID back toward individuals and families," he said. "But with that shift comes the responsibility to continue to think and act to keep others safe, along with yourself."

"You will not be left alone in this. Public Health still has a lot of work to do for a long while yet."


Meghan Groff

About the Author: Meghan Groff

Born in Michigan, raised in Ontario, schooled in Indiana and lives in Nova Scotia; Meghan is the editor for CityNews Halifax.
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