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Maritime public health officials brace for COVID-19
HALIFAX -- There are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Maritimes, although a dozen people have been tested.
Public health officials are expecting the virus to spread and they're getting ready for it.
Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health, Dr. Rob Strang, says seven people in the province have been tested for the novel coronavirus, and all test results came back negative. Two more people were tested this week and their results have yet to come back.
In New Brunswick, there were four people tested and all results came back negative.
"We are adjusting our border measures and screening into the health-care system across the country," said Strang, who added health officials are bracing for the worst.
As the coronavirus, or COVID-19, continues to spread, the biggest concern in Canada has become how best to prevent an outbreak here.
As Strang plans for the future, he also looks to the past.
Implementing alternative care sites, like the one the province used during the H1N1 outbreak, is an option Nova Scotia is considering.
"People that we were concerned had H1N1, the last place we wanted them was emergency rooms and hospitals, because the people who were most vulnerable were there beside them," said Strang.
Strang also says current provincial strategies include planning for the possibility of hospitalizing people if the coronavirus spreads to Nova Scotia.
"How do you keep them as best you can separate from everybody else in hospital," Strang said.
At a Halifax pharmacy, coronavirus concerns are already having an impact.
"We've had a very difficult time to acquire masks for the past four weeks," said pharmacist Curtis Chafe.
Chafe says masks are in short supply in North America.
People who want to wear them to help prevent the spread of germs are out of luck.
"Once COVID-19 was in the media, a lot of people were looking for personal protection or shipping to family members," Chafe said.
Coronavirus is also on Hockey Canada's radar, given the 2020 women's world hockey championship is fast approaching.
The games will be played in Halifax and Truro in late March, with fans and athletes traveling to Nova Scotia from all over the world.
“We are assessing the situation in co-ordination with Hockey Canada and its risk management department along with the IIHF,” said event general manager Grant MacDonald.
Dalhousie University business strategy professor Lorn Sheehan says when a virus like this spreads, fear of travel increases.
"There's nothing like fear in the deterrent of travel," Sheehan said.
Sheehan can't predict how coronavirus could impact the women's world championship, but, in general, he says when people are afraid to travel, it affects tourism and hurts the economy.