Nova Scotia is reporting nine COVID-19 deaths in the past week and a daily average of 250 lab-confirmed cases in its latest provincial dashboard update.

The figures come from a seven-day period from June 28 to July 4.

There were a total of 1,749 positive PCR tests, up from 1,491 from last week. This number does not include positive rapid test results.

Since March 2020, there have been 451 deaths from COVID-19 in Nova Scotia. About three-quarters of those deaths occurred during the Omicron wave, which began on December 8, 2021.

The Nova Scotia Department of Health says 26 people have been hospitalized with COVID-19 so far, including seven in intensive care. That’s an increase from last week, when there were 21 people in hospital with three in intensive care.

According to the health authority, another 119 people currently have COVID-19 but are hospitalized for another reason. Another 58 people have contracted COVID-19 after being hospitalized.

The province no longer publishes weekly COVID-19 reports with details such as the age ranges of those who died or COVID-19 cases in long-term care or in facilities. Starting this week, these reports will be published on a monthly basis.

The province continues to publish weekly respiratory disease reports, as it has done for many years. These reports detail levels of influenza and other respiratory illnesses, but do not include details of COVID-19 activity.

Jump in healthcare workers due to COVID-19

There was an increase in the number of Nova Scotia health care staff on sick leave or self-isolation due to COVID-19 this week, up 67% to 237 staff.

Every part of the province saw an uptick, but the central area, which includes Halifax, saw the biggest jump, with 138 work stoppages compared to 90 last week.

COVID-19 restrictions removed

On Wednesday, the province removed all remaining community COVID-19 restrictions. Since July 6, a five-day isolation is “strongly recommended” but not mandatory for people who test positive for COVID-19.

Most restrictions in high-risk environments will remain.

Long-term care homes, correctional facilities, shelters and halfway houses will maintain a seven-day isolation period for residents who test positive for COVID-19.

Healthcare workers will still have to be off work for seven days if they test positive for the virus.

Sick people are always asked to avoid high-risk spaces as well as other more vulnerable people. If sick people have to go outside, they are asked to wear a properly fitted mask. Masks continue to be recommended for everyone in crowded indoor spaces, including public transport.

Second reminder reservations for people aged 50 to 69

Starting Friday, July 8, Nova Scotians aged 50-69 will be able to book a second COVID-19 booster online or by phone during the day at 1-833-797-7772. People don’t need appointments for walk-in clinics offering the callback.

However, Nova Scotia Public Health says people should wait until the fall, when there might be a new vaccine that works better against the Omicron variant.

“Our advice is to wait because the first booster still offers strong protection against serious illness for most people in this age group. COVID-19 activity is currently relatively stable, but we expect a resurgence later this fall or winter when we typically see outbreaks of respiratory viruses,” Dr. Shelley Deeks, Deputy Chief Medical Officer of Health, said in a press release.

The province also announced Thursday that more immunocompromised Nova Scotians will be eligible for an additional dose of the vaccine starting July 8.

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