Nova Scotia to announce COVID-19 case numbers for long-term care homes on daily basis
'It terrifies me,' Premier Stephen McNeil says as cases of COVID-19 rise at long-term care homes
Nova Scotia announced Thursday it will begin reporting the number of COVID-19 cases at long-term care facilities in the province, on a day where 30 new positive test results for COVID-19 brought the provincial total to 579.
During a COVID-19 briefing, Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health, said seven of Nova Scotia's licensed long-term care facilities currently have cases of COVID-19, where 42 residents and 23 staff have contracted the virus.
Premier Stephen McNeil said cases at Northwood in Halifax are of particular concern. As of Wednesday, 38 residents and 21 staff at the Halifax campus had the virus, as well as four home support workers and two health services staff.
"It's the place that I was going to say scares the heck out of me, but it terrifies me," McNeil said.
The QEII Health Science Centre's microbiology lab completed 1,065 Nova Scotia tests on Wednesday.
Eleven people are in hospital because of the virus and four of them are in the intensive care unit.
To date, there have been 18,453 negative test results.
While three people have died because of COVID-19, 176 people have recovered.
"That's 39 more than we had yesterday and that's good news. And as we move through this, we'll continue to have more and more people recover," Strang said.
Province 'not contemplating layoffs'
Unlike Halifax, which recently laid off 1,480 city workers, McNeil said there are no plans to lay off any provincial staff.
"We don't see that that'll be required at this time," McNeil said.
"We've called some of those seasonal workers back now depending on what sectors they're in. But we are not contemplating any layoffs."
Potential exposures on Halifax Transit
On Thursday, the Nova Scotia Health Authority announced potential exposures of COVID-19 on two Halifax Transit bus routes:
- April 6, 8, 9 and 11 on Route 2 — 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
- April 6, 8, 9 and 11 on Route 21 — 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
The health authority has been in touch with people who are known to be close contacts of the people confirmed to have COVID-19, but anticipates there could be more people out there.
It anticipates symptoms could begin to appear up to and including April 25.
Symptoms to look for
The province recently expanded the list of symptoms being screened for COVID-19. They are:
- New or worsening cough.
- Sore throat.
- Runny nose.
Anyone with two or more of those symptoms should visit 811's website for a self-assessment questionnaire to determine if 811 should be called for further assessment.
Strang said he's been working with the Funeral Service Association of Nova Scotia to come up with guidelines for ceremonies and memorials for people who have died from the virus, which includes best practices for handling people's remains.
When it comes to holding a funeral, Strang said physical distancing measures must be observed and gatherings must be limited to no more than five people.
McNeil on 'farming families'
McNeil ended the briefing by talking about Nova Scotia's agricultural sector and temporary foreign workers. He said the province has worked with the agricultural sector to develop strict public health protocols.
Before the workers get on the plane to come to Nova Scotia, they are assessed for COVID-19. He said those workers are then quarantined for 14 days. After that, if they are well, they can go to work.
McNeil said there are no exceptions for temporary foreign workers.
"For many of these workers, they've become part of our farming families. They play a very important role in the agricultural sector," he said.
"And it's their hard work and the hard work of the men and women who are farming in this province to keep food on our tables and helps to keep the economy moving. And we are grateful our temporary foreign workers are here."