Nova Scotia's most recent COVID-19 case was home-care nurse who previously tested positive
Latest tests were inconclusive, so public health is working 'to see if it's a true case of reinfection or not'
Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health says the most recent case of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia was a home-care nurse in the province's central health zone.
The new case was announced Monday.
In a news briefing Wednesday, Dr. Robert Strang said the individual tested positive for COVID-19 in early May and had recovered. He said the individual's most recent test results were inconclusive, and public health is working with their local and national labs "to see if it's a true case of reinfection or not."
"In the meantime, out of an abundance of caution, we are assuming that this is a new positive case and taking the appropriate public health measures," he said.
Strang said this case has "implications for our understanding of immunity."
"[It's] making it more likely that we can't count on a one-time infection producing lifelong immunity," he said. "Anybody who was infected in the first wave, we can't just assume they have immunity now."
It's unclear how the nurse may have been infected.
Strang said the person wore full personal protective equipment and followed infection controls while working. He said public health is following up with their household and social contacts, and have been working with the home-care agency assessing each home-care client to determine their risk of exposure.
Few additional details were given about the recent risk of possible exposure at the Canada Games Centre in Halifax from Aug. 28 to Sept. 1, but Strang said it's a "low-risk environment."
"Just because you've been in the same facility at the same time doesn't mean you've been exposed," he said.
Post-secondary students doing well
In recent weeks, 3,200 out-of-province post-secondary students have arrived in Nova Scotia and 6,000 tests have been completed.
While four students have been fined for not self-isolating, Strang said most of the out-of-province students are either still self-isolating or have completed their self-isolation requirements. He said compliance for digital check-ins is very good.
"And the fact that we have only had three cases among the first 3,200 students bodes well. That's good news for all of us," said Strang.
He said this shows that the risk from post-secondary students is low and that the province's self-isolation and testing strategy is working. Each student from outside the Atlantic bubble is required to self-isolate for 14 days and complete three COVID-19 tests before they are permitted to attend class or go into the wider community.
Strang did, however, stress it's important to be careful while socializing. He said he had recently seen a picture of people lined up outside a Halifax bar without physical distancing.
"This is very concerning for all of us because we know facilities like bars are high-risk environments," he said.
When asked how the province will approach Halloween next month, Strang said there's "no reason that you can't practice Halloween safely" by maintaining physical distancing and modifying how you hand out candy.
He noted Halloween has become "very much an adult social event as well" and again stressed the importance of celebrating safely.
Strang said the province has been doing well to keep case numbers low, but it's important to not get complacent.
"If we continue to do all the things we're supposed to do, we can continue to remain in such a safe place," he said. "But it is incumbent on all of us."
Atlantic bubble not ready to burst
The premier also said in the news conference that "we're not there yet" when it comes to opening up to the rest of the country.
While McNeil said it's important to "balance the economic health of our province" while keeping case numbers low, he said there are no plans yet to burst the Atlantic bubble.
He said there are other places in Canada with similarly low case numbers, but whenever the province opens up, it would be to the rest of Canada rather than to specific provinces.
No new cases
Meanwhile, the province is reporting no new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday.
There are currently three active cases in the province and no one is in hospital.
Nova Scotia Health Authority labs completed 801 tests on Tuesday, according to a news release from the Department of Health.
Public Health is also warning of possible COVID-19 exposure at the Canada Games Centre in Halifax.
To date, Nova Scotia has had 1,086 positive cases and 65 deaths. No one is currently in hospital.
Strang and McNeil provided a COVID-19 update Wednesday afternoon. It was live streamed on the province's YouTube channel.
The latest numbers from around the Atlantic bubble are:
- P.E.I. reported two new cases on Wednesday, bringing the total number of active cases to 11.
- New Brunswick reported no new cases on Wednesday with two active cases.
- Newfoundland and Labrador reported no new cases and has two active cases as of Tuesday.
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.