Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia Health Authority to open dedicated COVID-19 testing sites Tuesday

The Nova Scotia Health Authority will be rolling out dedicated COVID-19 testing sites in hospitals Tuesday to increase testing in the province, the chief medical officer said in a Monday briefing.

There are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia

A man uses hand sanitizer in Montreal earlier this month. Global health officials say handwashing is one of the best ways to prevent infection. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

The Nova Scotia Health Authority will be rolling out dedicated COVID-19 testing sites in hospitals Tuesday to increase testing in the province, the chief medical officer said at a Monday briefing.

Dr. Robert Strang said between 20 and 30 people have been tested so far for COVID-19 in Nova Scotia, but there have been no confirmed cases.

"First of all, we need to get testing out of the emergency department, as well as increase capacity," Strang said. "The quickest thing to do was to find another site in the hospital."

Strang didn't say what hospitals will have the testing sites. He said more information will be released Tuesday.

Strang also said there are plans to set up community-based testing sites and possibly in-home testing by paramedics in the coming days.

Limit visits to long-term care homes

The province has also introduced new restrictions to try to limit the spread of COVID-19. People who have left the country will have to wait two weeks before going into a long-term care home upon their return to Canada.

"We're saying minimize your contact with people who are older and especially those who are older and have chronic conditions," Strang said.

The hope is the measures will protect people who are particularly vulnerable to coronavirus.

A spokesperson with the Department of Health said the restriction does not apply to health-care workers who have travelled outside of Canada.

The workers are asked to monitor their health and understand the risks if they become ill.

Nurses who have travelled and become ill will be placed on sick leave, a spokesperson with the Nova Scotia Nurses' Union said.

The province is advising people to monitor their health for 14 days after any international travel. If they feel unwell, they should stay at home.

Reserve 811 for travellers experiencing symptoms

Strang asked Nova Scotians who have travelled outside Canada and are experiencing a fever or a new cough to call 811 to be directed to the nearest testing site. 

He said there has been some wait time when calling 811 because of the increased volume of calls from those looking for information.

"It's really important that we preserve 811 for people who have travelled recently and who have, not just any symptoms, but people who have fever or a new cough," Strang said.

Those looking for information about the virus are asked to call the Government of Canada's novel coronavirus information line at 1-833-784-4397 or visit their website

Refill medication instead of buying 'all the toilet paper'

Strang said residents should be taking appropriate steps to prepare, but there's no need to panic.

"It's very reasonable that people buy a few extra groceries, canned goods that have the shelf life, in the possibility that you may have to be home for a period of time," he said. "But it doesn't mean you have to go out and buy all the toilet paper."

He said people who rely on medications should also refill their prescriptions ahead of time.

"There is the possibility in the coming weeks that if we get a lot of respiratory illness here in Nova Scotia, we're going to need the health system to deal with that and it won't necessarily be very easy for people to get in, for instance, a routine prescription refill."

Strang asked people to practise good hygiene by washing their hands, disinfecting surfaces and avoiding touching their face.

There have been 77 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Canada and the country's first death was reported in British Columbia Monday afternoon.