COVID-19 testing for asymptomatic people now available across Nova Scotia
'By getting tested, you can help us limit the potential spread of the virus,' says Dr. Robert Strang
Testing is now available across Nova Scotia for asymptomatic people looking to see if they have COVID-19.
"This is an opportunity for Nova Scotians to help keep each other safe, especially as we approach the holiday season," Dr. Robert Strang, the province's chief medical officer of health, said in a news release Monday.
"By getting tested, you can help us limit the potential spread of the virus by detecting positive cases in people who do not have symptoms."
The testing is available to people who:
- Do not have symptoms of COVID-19.
- Have not travelled outside Atlantic Canada in the last 14 days.
- Have not visited a potential exposure location.
- Have not been in contact with someone who has tested positive.
Appointments are required for the testing and can be booked until Dec. 13 by using the online assessment tool and choosing the asymptomatic option.
Asymptomatic testing has been available to people in the central zone at the Zatzman Sportsplex in Dartmouth since late November. Appointments are not required.
Pop-up rapid testing sites will continue to operate around the province, but will only be available to people who are 16 or older.
8 new cases Monday
Nova Scotia reported eight new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, two of which are school-related cases announced Sunday.
One case was identified at Ian Forsyth Elementary School in Dartmouth. Three other new cases were discovered in the central zone and are all related to previously reported cases.
The other school-based case was at Berwick and District School in the Annapolis Valley. There is one other new case in the western zone, which includes the Valley, South Shore and southwest Nova Scotia. It is related to travel outside Atlantic Canada.
The remaining two cases are within the eastern zone, which includes Cape Breton and the Antigonish and Guysborough areas. One is related to travel outside Atlantic Canada and the other case is under investigation.
"We know this virus wants to spread, but we also know we can contain it if we follow the public health guidance," Premier Stephen McNeil said in a news release Monday.
"It is crucial that everyone limit non-essential travel, follow the gathering limits in your region, wear a mask, limit social contacts, practice social distancing, stay home when feeling unwell and wash your hands."
Both Forsyth Elementary School and Berwick and District School will remain closed until Thursday for cleaning and contact tracing. Any close contacts will hear from Public Health and will be advised to self-isolate and get tested.
At-home learning will take place during the closure, with an update to come on Wednesday.
Potential COVID-19 exposure
On Monday night, the Nova Scotia Health Authority warned of a potential COVID-19 exposure on an Air Canada flight (8210) on Dec. 4 from Toronto (8:49 p.m.) to Sydney (11:55 p.m.). It is asking passengers in rows 16 to 20 to self-isolate and book a COVID-19 test online.
All other passengers on the flight should self-isolate and watch for signs and symptoms of COVID-19. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the coronavirus on this flight may develop symptoms up to, and including, Dec. 18.
Vaccine to arrive in N.S. next week
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Monday that 249,000 doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine will be available in Canada by the end of the year.
In a statement to CBC News, Nova Scotia's Department of Health said the province is expected to receive 1,950 doses next week.
Before that, the province will participate in a dry-run exercise with the manufacturer, the federal government, Dalhousie University and health system partners to prepare for the vaccine's arrival.
The exercise will test shipping, delivery, tracking and storage, but will not include the vaccine.
There are now 90 known active cases in the province. No one is in hospital with the virus.
"Over the past few days, we have seen a decline in case numbers. While this is good news, it is does not mean that COVID-19 is no longer a risk," Strang said in the release.
"If we don't follow all the public health measures, we could easily see a spike in cases."
The new cases were discovered among 1,242 tests completed at Nova Scotia Health Authority labs on Sunday.
The province has completed 200,253 tests since March.
The health authority is advising of two potential exposures on two Air Canada flights to Sydney in recent weeks. A full list of exposures in the province can be found here.
Cases in the Atlantic provinces
Newfoundland and Labrador announced on Monday that it would not rejoin the Atlantic bubble for at least a month. That means anyone arriving from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island will have to continue to self-isolate for 14 days.
P.E.I. announced on Thursday that its travel restrictions within the region would stay in place until at least Dec. 21.
The latest numbers from the Atlantic provinces are:
- Newfoundland and Labrador reported no new cases Monday and has 28 active cases.
- New Brunswick reported two new cases Monday and has 81 active cases. Three people have been hospitalized including two in intensive care.
- P.E.I. reported four new cases Monday and has 14 active cases. The source of the current outbreak is unknown so the province introduced sweeping restrictions Monday. All gyms, libraries, bingo halls and casinos will be closed for at least two weeks and restaurants will be closed to indoor dining.
Anyone with one of the following symptoms should visit the COVID-19 self-assessment website or call 811:
- Cough or worsening of a previous cough.
Anyone with two or more of the following symptoms is also asked to visit the website or call 811:
- Sore throat.
- Shortness of breath.
- Runny nose.
With files from Jean Laroche