Strang said given the extent of the virus’s spread, the province had significantly more COVID-19 spread in early April than public health knew.
“So many people haven’t had any symptoms or mild symptoms and just haven’t been tested … so it’s going to take us a little while to get over it,” Strang said in an interview with Global News Morning on Monday. .
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The good news is that the Nova Scotia Health Authority labs made “significant progress” on Sunday following the huge backlog of tests announced on April 20.
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Strang said it might take another day for labs to get back to their usual turnaround time, meaning the vast majority of people get their results within 48 hours of being tested.
In the meantime, he said the province is seeing an increase in hospitalizations, which needs to be taken seriously.
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On Sunday there were 34 people in the hospital, four more people than reported on Saturday. Six of these patients are in intensive care.
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“This new variant, the third wave variant, is a different virus from the first wave. It produces a lot more disease in young people and can progress to serious disease very quickly, ”Strang said.
“They’re more contagious, they’re spread more easily, they’re spread faster… It’s almost like we’re dealing with a whole new virus.”
Strang said last week that Nova Scotia is primarily seeing variant B.1.1.7, first identified in the UK, but the province is seeing other variants as well.
But despite the possible seriousness of the new variant, Strang said the province would not change its approach to vaccination based on age.
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He said the reason is that this approach will allow everyone to get vaccinated by June.
“We are making very rapid progress. Starting to accommodate all of these different groups slows us down considerably throughout our central booking process, ”Strang said.
As more Nova Scotians get vaccinated, Strang said the public health measures put in place could prevent the spread of COVID-19 even though it was more contagious now.
“It means we have to be more careful, each of us, in what we do in terms of complying with COVID protocols… The way to get that under control, you have to recognize it and act early, which we have done… but it will take some time to break those chains of transmission, ”Strang said.
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