Nova Scotia

COVID-19 tests now necessary before most surgeries in Nova Scotia

Some people awaiting surgery in Nova Scotia will need to be tested for COVID-19 before their procedures can move ahead.

New rules apply to those who've been in areas with public advisories, including Halifax, Moncton, Saint John

Most people who need surgery in Nova Scotia will have to be tested within three days before their procedure. (David Blomme/NSHA)

Some people awaiting surgery in Nova Scotia will need to be tested for COVID-19 before their procedure can move ahead.

Nova Scotia Health announced the change Tuesday amid rising case numbers and community spread, primarily in the Halifax area. The new rules are effective immediately and apply to people who may need general anesthesia.

Patients who live in the Central Zone, Enfield and Mount Uniacke will have to be tested 72 hours before surgery.

People who have visited any business or specific location with a known exposure risk also fall under that requirement.

Nova Scotia Health said patients coming from New Brunswick zones 1 and 2, which include Saint John and Moncton, will also have to be tested.

Those patients will have their tests arranged for them, while urgent cases will be handled in the hospital.

On Tuesday, a number of new restrictions in the Halifax area were announced as the province reported 37 new cases of COVID-19.

Limit activity, say health officials

Nova Scotia Health said approximately five surgeries were cancelled as a result of the new rule.

"It's our goal to get those patients who were bumped while waiting for a test in for surgery over the next couple days," it said in a statement. 

Patients are being asked to limit activity to minimize their chances of being exposed to COVID-19 before their operations.

The province's chief medical officer of health, Dr. Robert Strang, said Tuesday his colleagues at Public Health are working closely with the provincial health authority to develop new safety protocols.

"They are, right now, looking at what they need to do to deal with the potential surge of hospitalizations due to COVID-19, and then working through what other services need to be shifted," Strang said. "We're working completely collaboratively."

Hospital visits were suspended as of Nov. 20 to most patients in the Central Zone to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within hospitals.