A group of researchers analyzing COVID-19 data from across Canada ranked Nova Scotia the highest in the country in its risk index at the end of July.
During the week of July 29, the organization COVID-19 Resources Canada rated Nova Scotia very high on its risk index. The rest of the country was rated either high or better. The group receives funding from the Public Health Agency of Canada.
It comes as Nova Scotia reported zero deaths in its COVID-19 update this week — the first since Jan. 3.
The Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness said it could not comment on the index because “we do not know the sources of the data or the methodology used to analyze the data.”
“In the first omicron wave, and even to some extent in the second omicron wave, Nova Scotia had fewer cases per capita than most of the rest of Canada,” said Tara Moriarty, an infectious disease expert at the University of Toronto and co. -Founder of COVID-19 Resources Canada.
“Nova Scotia kind of held on and thrived longer during the first and part of the second omicron wave than many other provinces.
“The other part of the problem is that Nova Scotia had more people infected for the first time than the rest of the country, and I think that’s partly why Nova Scotia is doing worse this time around.”
To come up with the risk index, Moriarty said her group looked at infection rates, vaccine protection, health care system impacts and deaths.
Over the past few weeks, Moriarty said infection rates have been high in Nova Scotia. She said that COVID-19 appears in sewage, reported hospitalizations, deaths, intensive care admissions and vaccination rates collected by the Canadian Critical Care Society.
“All the indicators, especially for estimated actual infections and effluent, have been high in Nova Scotia for quite some time, which is partly why Nova Scotia is kind of stuck at this very high level,” Moriarty said.
COVID-19 Resources Canada updates its Risk Index weekly. Moriarty said that while smaller populations tend to have more volatile results, there is not as much up and down in larger populations.
“We don’t see that with Nova Scotia or Saskatchewan … in most provinces that are north of 700,000 people, the trends are much more stable,” Moriarty said.
“PEI, for example, is a small place, and if you have one big event in Charlottetown that drives a lot of broadcasts, you can see a really big effect, but it might not spread to the rest of the province.”
Moriarty said Nova Scotia has been consistent with its index score for the past two weeks. COVID-19 Resources Canada said that if the score goes down, “it’s pretty reasonable to assume that it will continue to improve for some time and that it won’t bounce back too much.”
Impacts on the healthcare system
Halifax Atlantic MLA Brendan Maguire said he wasn’t surprised Nova Scotia ranked highest in the index. He said health workers and frontline workers have been sounding the alarm for some time.
“We’re seeing the impact on our surgeries, we’re seeing the impact on the emergency rooms, so we’ve raised the issue in the Legislature that COVID is here, it’s bad, and it’s just not being recognized,” Maguire said. “It shows that what we are saying is true and hopefully it will open the eyes of the government.”
Maguire said the province needs to collect and share more data about COVID-19 to help people make decisions.
“The least they could do is encourage people to take a little more caution when they’re out in public,” he said.
The Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness has urged Nova Scotians to obtain their data from the provincial and federal governments.
“New Scots are reminded that the virus continues to have an impact in our province. They should continue to take steps to minimize the risk of exposure to themselves and those around them by wearing masks in public and staying at home when not.” are not feeling well and to get vaccinated when they are eligible,” a Health and Wellness spokesperson said in an email.
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