26 Mar Testing for COVID-19 Expands; Health System Preparations
Premier Stephen McNeil, Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Brendan Carr, president and CEO of Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) and Dr. Krista Jangaard, president and CEO of IWK Health Centre gave an update today, March 26, on the health system and efforts to help Nova Scotians dealing with COVID-19.
“Our health-care system is being examined from top to bottom to ensure we are ready for COVID-19,” said Premier McNeil. “Our hospital administrators, our doctors and nurses, cleaning staff – everyone is focused on containing the spread. But none of this matters if you don’t stay at home and avoid social gatherings.”
Dr. Strang said testing to confirm COVID-19 is being expanded to include:
— anyone referred by 811 to an assessment centre
— all close contacts of people who test positive
— people in hospital that meet the criteria for testing
An alternate phone line has been set up to ensure health-care workers are virus-free, able to safely provide care and not burden the 811 system. The service deals with NSHA and IWK staff, home-care and long-term care providers, pharmacists and health providers in First Nations communities.
“Over the next two weeks as travellers come home, we need to control and limit spread of this virus,” said Dr. Strang. “We can do this by strictly following public health measures – physical distancing and self-isolation.”
Other measures announced today include:
— reservations for the 2020 camping season are on hold; an announcement will made when they are available
— open fires are banned for any purpose in woods or within 305 metres of woods in any part of the province and will be in effect until May 15 (the public can report wildfires by calling 911 in an emergency or by calling 1-800-565-2224)
Nova Scotians can find accurate, up-to-date information, handwashing posters and fact sheets at https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus .
“I want to reassure IWK patients and families across Nova Scotia and those living in P.E.I., New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador that we are still here for you. Your urgent care needs will continue to be met and you will be permitted to cross the border for urgent and specialized appointments.”
– Dr. Krista Jangaard, president and CEO, IWK Health Centre
“While most people are being told not to go to work, our staff and physicians are showing up every day to ensure Nova Scotians get the care they need. As we continue to plan, prepare and respond to COVID-19, we appreciate your patience, support and co-operation with the important public health measures that are in place. This will help reduce the impact the pandemic will have on Nova Scotians and our health system. It is a difficult time for everyone, but if we all do our part, we will reduce the spread of the virus and life will return to normal sooner.”
– Dr. Brendan Carr, president and CEO, Nova Scotia Health Authority
— testing numbers are updated daily at https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus
— Nova Scotia’s Health Protection Act gives the chief medical officer of health the authority to give advice to protect public health and decrease risk to public health presented by communicable diseases such as COVID-19
— a state of emergency was declared under the Emergency Management Act on March 22 and remains in effect until noon, April 5
— under the state of emergency government can control or prohibit assembly as well as travel to and from areas. It can also coordinate commerce activity and emergency responders
— a new virus like COVID-19 can cause fear. Nova Scotians are encouraged to support each other and use technology to stay connected
Government of Canada: https://canada.ca/coronavirus
Government of Canada toll-free information line 1-833-784-4397
The Mental Health Provincial Crisis Line is available 24/7 to anyone experiencing a mental health or addictions crisis, or someone concerned about them, by calling 1-888-429-8167 (toll free).
Kids Help Phone is available 24/7, by calling 1-800-668-6868 (toll-free).