Nova Scotia

Why you shouldn't go for a drive during the COVID-19 pandemic

Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health says the health-care system is currently stressed, and fewer people out driving means medical workers likely won't have to deal with as many motor vehicle crashes.

Accidents strain health-care system, put paramedics at risk

Dr. Robert Strang is asking Nova Scotians to only hit the road for necessary trips. (novascotia.com)

Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health is urging people to stay off the roads as much as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic, and to use common sense to minimize the number of trips they do make.

Dr. Robert Strang said the health-care system is currently stressed, and fewer people out driving means medical workers likely won't have to deal with as many motor vehicle crashes.

"You may think it's OK getting in your car and driving about, but the fewer people we have on the roads means fewer trips to gas stations," Strang said on Sunday. "It also means less chance of an accident."

Strang said people should not be driving to open up their cottages, to pick up or sell items on Kijiji or Facebook Marketplace, or for any social reasons.

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil has said on previous occasions that people should not drive to find a place to exercise and should instead be walking in their home communities.

Michael Nickerson, president of the union that represents Nova Scotia paramedics and LifeFlight nurses, said hospitals need as much space as possible at the moment due to the pandemic.

What are the risks?

If there's an accident, Nickerson said the people involved may not know they are infected with COVID-19, putting at risk first responders who may not be wearing personal protective equipment if it's in short supply.

"If you do not have to be out, stay home," said Nickerson. "It will help everybody — your family, your neighbours, yourselves and the health-care workers."

Strang said the more people in Nova Scotia are on the move, the more the province is at risk.

Making essential trips, like going to the grocery store or to the pharmacy, is OK, he said, but those outings should be minimized as much as possible and done by one household member.

He also said people who are essential-service workers that have to get to work may also have to drive.

Strang said on Monday that police will not be ticketing people for driving or pulling them over to ask where they are going.

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