Nova Scotia reports 32 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, total is now 549
Chief medical officer says breaking physical distancing rules is OK if it's to help people with disabilities
The number of COVID-19 cases in Nova Scotia rose to 549 on Wednesday, after 32 new positive tests were announced.
The QEII Health Sciences Centre's microbiology lab completed 855 tests on Tuesday and is operating 24 hours. So far, there have been 17,419 negative tests and 137 people have recovered.
During a press briefing on Wednesday, Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer, said Nova Scotia is "one of the leading provinces in terms of our ability to have a high throughout of testing for our citizens."
Most cases are connected to travel or a known case, but there is community spread.
Nine people are hospitalized because of COVID-19, while four of them are in the intensive care unit.
The Nova Scotia Health Authority announced potential COVID-19 exposures at several locations throughout the Halifax region, including:
- The Atlantic Superstore at 8 Braemar Drive in Dartmouth on April 9-11.
- Halifax Transit route 61 to the Bridge Terminal/Halifax between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. on April 11.
- Halifax Transit route 10 to Dalhousie via the Bridge Terminal between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. on April 11.
Public Health is directly contacting people known to be a close contact of the people confirmed to have tested positive for COVID-19. While most people have been contacted, it's possible there could be more people affected.
Physical distancing exceptions
Strang said breaking physical distancing rules is allowed if it's to help people with disabilities.
"Please offer your help, even if that does mean you have to break that social distancing — that's OK in those circumstances," he said.
Support for long-term care workers
Premier Stephen McNeil thanked people who work at long-term care facilities in Nova Scotia.
"COVID-19 has entered a number of long-term care facilities and when it hits our nursing homes, it attacks the most vulnerable and spreads quickly," McNeil said.
"We need to stay strong in our effort to defeat the virus. That means wrapping our arms around the homes that are struggling."
McNeil said residents in long-term care homes are being tested for COVID-19. He said their temperatures are being taken twice a day and people who are sick are being isolated from those who are healthy.
Masks are being provided to front-line workers. McNeil said anyone with symptoms must self-isolate for 14 days before returning to work.
"We're doing all of this to ensure that your loved ones are safe," McNeil said.
He encouraged people to stay in touch with loved ones in long-term care facilities virtually.
No more drive-in church services
Strang said going forward, drive-in church services will no longer be allowed during COVID-19.
He said he received backlash from some members of the public over these types of services happening on Easter Sunday.
Strang said he previously allowed it because the church and a councillor contacted him personally and asked permission. He said that group took steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during the service.
"I know that not everybody agrees with this decision and I do understand that making exceptions can create confusion," Strang said.
"A lot of faith communities are doing virtual worship, but I'm also cognizant that this may not always be possible, especially in rural areas where access to internet may be more challenging."
Sobeys employee tests positive
Sobeys confirmed on Wednesday that one of its employees at the Forest Hills Parkway location in Dartmouth, N.S., tested positive for COVID-19.
The company says that employee last worked on April 6.
"Public health has reviewed the circumstances of this case and has advised that the risk of exposure to other employees and customers is low," Sobeys said in a statement to CBC News.
"All measures recommended by public health have been implemented fully and are complete."
The company said the store remains open because of its "rigorous and constant cleaning protocols." It said public health did not request the location be closed.
Strang said instances of grocery store workers getting sick has been put "on the agenda for an urgent conversation."
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.