Nova Scotia

Halifax mom who tested negative, then positive for COVID says don't underestimate 3rd wave

Erin Hancock initially tested negative for COVID-19 before developing symptoms and testing positive several days later. She's warning Nova Scotians to be extra vigilant as the third wave grips the province. 

Erin Hancock and her 2-year-old daughter are recovering from the virus

Erin Hancock and her daughter tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday after an exposure at the girl's daycare on April 23. (Erin Hancock)

A Halifax parent who initially tested negative for COVID-19, but then developed symptoms and tested positive several days later, is warning Nova Scotians to be extra vigilant as the third wave grips the province.

Erin Hancock, a single parent of a two-year-old daughter, said she's followed public health rules and played it safe for more than a year, and she still got sick.

"Don't lean into a false sense of security," she said. "The first and the second wave are nothing like what we're dealing with now."

Hancock was first notified on April 23 that someone with the virus had been at her daughter's daycare that day. But she said she didn't find out from Public Health until four days later that her daughter was actually a close contact.

"For me, the biggest disappointment is that we exposed someone, even though we were following protocol still, because we had such a gap in finding out that she was, in fact, a direct exposure," she told CBC Radio's Maritime Noon on Monday.

Before they received the second notification, Hancock said she and her daughter were tested at a primary assessment site to be safe. Both the tests were negative.

"We're rule followers so we weren't out having parties or anything, but we did a couple distanced visits with friends, one of which is now ill," she said.

The visits took place outside, she said, and before the provincewide lockdown when public health rules still allowed for gatherings of up to five people.

Hancock's first test was negative, but a few days later she started developing symptoms. (Erin Hancock)

Then on April 27, they received the close-contact letter from Public Health, and by the following morning both of them were feeling unwell. 

They had a fever and cough and Hancock said she could hardly get off the couch. 

"I had one of the most steady and unforgiving headaches I've ever had for a few days straight," she said. "Certainly it was harder to be moving around with any amount of energy … and I mean, with a two-year-old, that's just a bit of a struggle."

The mother and daughter then had to wait a couple days before they were able to get in for a second test on April 30, Hancock said.

On Monday morning, Hancock said she got the call she was expecting: she and her daughter were positive for COVID-19. It was just over a week after their first negative test.

"I think people are carrying on, trying to be safe, but not knowing the bounds of the risks," Hancock said.

A 'much more transmittable virus'

This is what worries and frustrates Dr. Lisa Barrett, an infectious disease researcher and clinician at Dalhousie University, who's seeing the impact the variants are having on younger Nova Scotians.

"I'm going to see human beings in the hospital every day that I wish everyone listening could see," Barrett told CBC Radio's Mainstreet on Monday. "They're very sick. They can't breathe and they're not the people we were seeing earlier."

She said many of the people who are in their 20s, 30s and 40s aren't going to do well in the hospital.

"I don't think that quite as many people get the fact that this is a more serious form of this disease than we have been seeing before," she said.

Dr. Lisa Barrett says she's worried and frustrated that some people don't seem to be taking the third wave seriously. (CBC)

"I kind of feel like we failed a little bit maybe on the messaging … maybe we haven't been clear enough that this is a much more transmittable virus."

Hancock said she's been relying on her sister to drop off food.

She and her daughter are starting to feel better and she's thankful for the support she's received, but she's also worried about her neighbours and friends. 

"When the quiet of the night comes and you're sort of wondering, is everyone going to be OK tonight? I feel for everybody who's struggling with this."

With files from CBC Radio's Maritime Noon and Mainstreet