Unfortunately, Nova Scotia continues to lead Canada in rates of Covid-19 infection, despite extremely low rates in the first year of the pandemic. The hazard index is ***SEVERE*** which is twice as bad as the Canadian average.
Much of this could be mitigated with non-invasive measures such as masking, higher uptake of boosters through increased access, and improved indoor air quality with MERV13/HEPA filtration in buildings and schools.
Covid-19 wastewater data in the Dartmouth-Halifax region is showing an unprecedented steep increase in viral load, suggesting a high level of infection in the area. There has yet to be any explanation from Government officials or warnings from public health. It is impossible to speculate without timely access to their Covid-specific data.
Nova Scotia is currently seeing an estimated 6,659 cases of Covid-19 each day. This is likely to put a significant burden on scarce healthcare resources, social health resources, and educational institutions. This will cause significant risks of repeated infections, even in those who are fully vaccinated with boosters or who’ve had previous infection. The current strain of Omicron shows significant immune evasion, especially to previous variants, and reinfections have been reported within 4-6 weeks instead of months. This will likely contribute to further health and social care disruption, educational disruption, and supply chain disruption.
As CIBC noted in their report, this will have further negative impact to the economy, personal finances, critical services, and cost of goods & services:
“But a policy that has been undertaken with the idea that it
would improve the economy — dropping mask mandates and
vaccine requirements — may actually be working to prolong
some of Covid’s economic costs. Yes, demand may have been
enhanced by eliminating these measures.
Some were precluded from activities by not being vaccinated, while today’s much reduced mask use has given others the (somewhat misleading) impression that crowded indoor activities were fully safe again.
While helping on the demand side, diminished public health
restraints, particularly during surges in case counts, are cutting into the economy’s supply capabilities. Their absence is likely that elevating the peak levels for Covid cases, and thereby
increasing the costs of worker absenteeism, and perhaps, as
we’ve seen in the UK, risking longer term labour market damage
due to Long Covid.
So while lockdowns should be behind us, consideration should be given to mask wearing during future waves as well as improvements in indoor air quality and a further push in global vaccination. If Covid sticks around, such steps will help ensure that its hit to economic supply is less onerous.”CIBC Capital Markets Economic Report
Figures within the report shows the employment volatility to still be above pre-pandemic norms, particularly where there are issues with higher rates of infection and supply chains. The false impression may have given a temporary economic boost, but that will likely come at a cost now that children are back to school, PH protections are non-existent, and reporting is insufficient to allow people to make responsible choices.
This will likely contribute to further lost working hours impacting those without sick time who are often less able to afford the loss of income. Frontline workers in general face a disproportionate burden of high-risk exposures, and therefore more financial loss and greater risks of long-Covid or severe outcomes with each additional infection.
We still do not know the true long term consequences of Covid infection or multiple infections, particularly in children.
We do know that the US The Census Bureau’s June to July 2022 HPS survey found that 16.3 million people (around 8%) of working-age Americans currently have long Covid.
There is no question that the unmitigated Covid-19 pandemic is a mass-disablizing event that will have severe consequences to our public, social, and economic health.
In Nova Scotia, the current estimated number of people getting Long-Covid is 330 people every day.
Estimated hospitalizations due to Covid-19 infections are about 35 people a day with about 1-2 people being admitted to the ICU. Every. Single. Day. This is one of the few more objective measurements we have, given the Province isn’t offering the majority PCR testing, many don’t report Rapid Tests, and it is unclear if those are reported as true cases within case counts.
Another measure that remains is the number of deaths, which is currently estimated at between 5-6 people a day. This estimated number of deaths is likely far more accurate than the Provincial count as the province is still behind in reporting on excess mortality: the number of unreported Covid-19 deaths is likely higher than the TOTAL number currently reported by the Province (see figure/table below). The province last reported this in October 2021 and it is presenting scientists and epidemiologists a challenge when reporting back to Government and residents of Canada… which is perhaps not a coincidence.
As it stands right now, Covid-19 is the third leading cause of death in Canada.
And Omicron is causing about 23X more deaths in Nova Scotia than the Flu.
Nova Scotia is estimated to be spending between $750,000 – $1,000,000 EVERYDAY on hospitalization due to covid infections. That is $196,000,000 spent this year on a preventable illness while the province reports a surplus for failing to invest in non-invasive public health protections.
The unchecked transmission of infection means more illness, hospitalization, and ICU care, which has put hospitals in Nova Scotia about 10-15% overcapacity. This is occuring at a time where more staff have left, are off on leave due to “burn out” or Long-Covid, and few people are available to meet the increasing needs of NS residents for immediate Covid infection and Long-Covid healthcare (on top of healthcare delayed during the pandemic and the pre-pandemic waitlist for urgent primary healthcare.
Solutions through privatization will only worsen the situation, as evident from the problems seen in Quebec, private long-term care homes, and the privatization of ambulance services. It will be the slippery slope to a US style system: any private service will poach healthcare staff from our understaffed public system, leading to further gaps in health services, more privatization, more poaching, until there is no real public healthcare system left. This will disrupt health unions, equitable employment, and benefits while making private companies even richer. We will be abandoning 100 years of progress towards a middle class and rights to fair financial compensation for labour.
This will be updated further in the couple of days when additional Provincial data becomes available…
Featured: MacLean’s They Were Loved obituary project.