Hundreds seek testing from potential variant exposure at Dartmouth's King's Wharf
HALIFAX -- Nova Scotia health officials are casting a wide net in effort to catch any possible exposures to recently identified variant cases.
On Sunday, Public Health asked anyone who lives at, worked at or visited any residences or businesses at Dartmouth’s King’s Wharf from March 10 to March 27, to get tested for COVID-19, whether they have symptoms or not.
That has made for a busy time at testing clinics in the Halifax area.
Nurses at the Dartmouth drive-thru COVID-19 testing clinic spent Monday alternating between directing traffic and collecting swabs. Most people who went through the drive-thru clinic had been to King’s Wharf.
“Today has been very busy. I think Dr. Strang would be very please” says nurse Ann Mann.
“We’re doing what we’re told to do, and what we think is right,” says resident Pauline Boudreau.
Kings Wharf resident Michelle St. Onge says she has to wait one more day for a test, but isn’t too worried because she says most residents wear masks.
“All the spots were filled up,” says St. Onge. “There’s probably 500 people who need to all of a sudden get tested just who live here. And the post office, and the market.”
The owner of a restaurant located at King’s Wharf says while he believes testing is important, he questions why public health wasn’t more specific about where the exposure was.
“To condemn all of the King’s Wharf area is upsetting,” says Adam McCullough, owner of the Millstone Public House. “As you can see, the restaurant is open, but empty.”
Four cases of the B.1.1.7 variant (first found in the U.K.) have been confirmed in Nova Scotia in the past two days. Three were reported in the Central Zone, and one reported in the Eastern Zone. All four cases were related to travel, and three of the cases are considered resolved, with one still self-isolating.
This brings the total number of cases of the B.1.1.7 variant (first found in the U.K.) in Nova Scotia to 17. There have also been 10 confirmed cases of the B.18.104.22.168 variant, first found in South Africa.
Public health says there is no sign of community spread of any variant cases.
“This variant version of the virus does seem to spread more quickly,” says Dr. Lisa Barrett, an infectious disease expert in Halifax
Dr. Barrett says it’s not know exactly why variants are more contagious, and while she says she doesn’t know the specifics in the King’s Wharf related case, it is smart for as many people to be tested as possible.
“There’s at least the theoretical chance that other people in the area may be at risk,” says Dr. Barrett. “So we would love to know whether people have the infection and don’t have symptoms in order to prevent further spread.”
Though the Department of Health and Wellness couldn't be reached before this story initially ran, a spokesperson for the department later responded to CTV News with the following statement:
"Public health responded quickly once a positive case was identified as a variant. The exposure notice followed the same protocol as has been done in the past when a variant is in any community – we inform people and ask for them to get tested."