'It just shows that it can pop up anywhere,' reality of possible COVID-19 exposure at St. Patrick's Day event
LAKE ECHO, N.S. -- A St. Patrick's Day dance at a recreation centre outside of Halifax is being flagged as a possible place of COVID-19 exposure.
The Nova Scotia Health Authority advises everyone who attended the event in Lake Echo on March 14 to self-isolate and monitor themselves for symptoms of the virus.
"The health assessment group has been in touch with us to get some tests done," explains the event's volunteer bartender, Tom Wilkinson. "We'd like to get that done as soon as possible to clarify and to take a little anxiety off of us."
Wilkinson and his wife Beth were both bartenders at the community event.
The dance was sponsored by the area's Lions Club to raise money for youth initiatives.
There were no reported cases of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia at the time.
Area councilor David Hendsbee says organizers are adhering to the government's guidelines.
"For March 14, the provincial order was no gatherings more than 150 people, so they felt it was safe to proceed," Hendsbee says. "Forty-seven people showed up that night to the St. Patrick's Day Dance at the Lake Echo Community Centre – all 47 people have been contacted by the health authority."
The Wilkinson's say a number of precautionary measures were taken at the event, for example, tables were spaced two meters apart, hand sanitizer was available to everyone to attended, and finger foods were not left on any tables.
People of all ages attended the dance, some in their twenties, to people in their seventies.
"We do have some concerns about some of the people but they were mostly separated off in their own groups and spaced out at the tables," Wilkinson said.
"It just shows that it can pop up anywhere," said Hendsbee.
The centre has since been sanitized from top to bottom.
Health officials say anyone exposed to the virus March 14 may develop symptoms up to, and including, March 28.