Nova Scotia is waiving ambulance fees for anyone with COVID-19 who needs to be taken to a hospital.
"Over the weekend there were a number of positive cases, that when first contacted by public health, needed an immediate call for an ambulance," explained Dr. Robert Strang at Monday's briefing.
"In some cases, people did not call 911 because they could were unable to pay the ambulance fee," added the province's chief medical officer of health. "We worked quickly on Saturday with EHS to waive the fee for anyone with COVID who needs emergency transport to hospital."
Most Nova Scotians with a valid health card will be handed a bill for $146.55 for a ride in an ambulance. Non-Nova Scotians pay a significantly higher fee of $732.95. The cost for non-Canadians and new Canadians is $1,099.35. The charge may be covered by some private insurance plans.
The province announced 146 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, with a total of 943 active cases.
In the daily news release, the province reported 40 people were in hospital with six in the ICU, however those numbers had already risen to 42 in hospital and eight in the ICU as of the 3 p.m. start of yesterday's briefing.
Strang said the risk from COVID-19 is different in 2021 than it was in 2020, as it mostly involves the B.1.1.7 variant, which first emerged in the U.K.
"We are seeing previously healthy young and middle-aged adults get COVID and then rapidly deteriorate to severe disease," Strang said. "Whether you're young or old, healthy or not, the virus does not care."
Strang added if you have COVID and your symptoms start to get worse, don't wait around for a call back from public health officials.
"We've had a number of cases where people have had initial contact from public health, and then they get a lot sicker and they're phoning and leaving a message for public health. If you're concerned about immediate health issues, 811 or 911 is your phone call."
Nova Scotia is currently in the midst of a two-week province-wide lockdown and for the most part, social gatherings are limited to those who live in your household.
Strang said those restrictions are in place for one simple reason, they are necessary to keep Nova Scotians safe from the widespread COVID-19 activity currently happening in the Halifax area.
"Even if you don't get severely ill, it could be the person you pass it to, a friend, a sibling, a parent, a child," he stated.
"While there are treatments that can help with the symptoms caused by COVID, there's no cure and no guarantee."
He reminded those who have had their first dose of vaccine are not fully protected.
"It takes at least two weeks to develop immunity to the virus," Strang explained. "There are a couple of people in hospital because they went out to celebrate immediately after getting their first dose of vaccine."
"You do not get complete long-term immunity until you get your second dose. That means you still have to follow public health measures closely, even if you've been immunized."