N.S. to allow long-term care residents to visit family, as 1 new COVID-19 case discovered
New case was identified in the western zone and is an essential worker who travelled outside of Canada
Nova Scotia will soon allow residents of long-term care homes to visit their families outside the facilities starting as soon as Sept. 28.
Dr. Robert Strang, the province's chief medical officer of health, made the announcement on Tuesday after saying the province has taken a "phased and careful" approach toward loosening restrictions.
"We know that some residents and families have been wanting to connect in ways that they could before the pandemic," Strang said.
"...We know [how] high risk these facilities are ... and we have to remain very cautious and careful protecting those most vulnerable in our communities."
Strang said residents of long-term care homes will be able to leave the facility for day visits with family. That could include a Thanksgiving gathering, for example.
The visits must be prearranged with the facility and a record of visits will be kept. He said individual facilities can determine when they want to allow the offsite visits.
Residents will not be required to self-isolate upon returning as long as they follow public health measures like wearing a mask when required, maintaining physical distance and washing their hands.
Earlier this month, the province announced that designated caregivers, including family members, would be able to return to long-term care homes to help support and care for residents.
Since mid-June, people have been able to visit loved ones in long-term care homes but they had to stay outdoors and keep two metres apart.
Nova Scotia also reported one new case of COVID-19 in the province's western zone on Tuesday.
The individual is an essential worker who travelled outside of Canada, according to Strang.
He said the case is under investigation and it appears that the individual had "very few close contacts."
There is one active case of the virus and one individual is in intensive care, according to a news release from the Department of Health and Wellness. Public Health could not confirm if the essential worker is the individual in intensive care.
A probable case was reported Monday and involves a Dalhousie University student who recently returned after travelling outside of the Atlantic bubble. The student lives off campus and has been self-isolating as required.
The case is being treated as a lab-confirmed positive to ensure all precautions are taken.
Post-secondary student testing
Strang said nearly 4,000 post-secondary students entered Nova Scotia from outside the Atlantic bubble.
He said 89 per cent have completed their isolation and 94 per cent complied with the daily check-in.
In the past few weeks, Strang said there was only one positive case identified among post-secondary students and three that were treated as indeterminate positives.
"I certainly consider that our approach to universities has been a significant success ... and because of that, classes are now underway at all our universities," he said.
He said 8,826 tests were completed among post-secondary students, as students could be tested up to three times.
Testing centres on university campuses will remain open until Oct. 5 but students coming in from outside the bubble after that date will still have to self-isolate and will have to contact 811 to schedule an appointment for testing.
Strang also clarified that any individual who has been tested, or is waiting for a test, must isolate, but individuals inside the home do not have to isolate. They should still monitor for symptoms closely.
"We're at a place where it's safe enough with COVID that we can allow household members to continue to be out in the community even if one person in that household is waiting for a test or a test result," Strang said.
The province completed 681 Nova Scotia tests on Monday.
So far, Nova Scotia has had 88,459 negative test results for the virus, 1,087 positive cases and 65 deaths. A total of 1,021 cases are considered resolved.
The latest numbers from around the Atlantic bubble are:
- New Brunswick no new reported cases Tuesday with a total of three active cases.
- Newfoundland and Labrador reported no new cases Sunday and had one active case.
- P.E.I. had no new cases on Monday, with one active case.
Anyone with one of the following symptoms of COVID-19 should go to this website to see if they should call 811 for further assessment:
- Cough or worsening of a previous cough.
Anyone with two or more of the following symptoms is also asked to visit the 811 website:
- Sore throat.
- Shortness of breath.
- Runny nose.