N.S. premier 'frustrated' by travellers who fail to self-isolate; province to ramp up surveillance
HALIFAX -- As the Nova Scotia government reported a new travel-related case of COVID-19 on Monday, Premier Stephen McNeil had some harsh words for travellers who fail to self-isolate after arriving in the province, and promised to monitor visitors from outside the Atlantic region.
“This case, along with a number of reports of people from outside of the Atlantic bubble coming in and not self-isolating, has sparked a lot of questions and concerns about the Canada-U.S. border and about our own border and I am as frustrated as all of you,” said McNeil during a news conference in Halifax on Monday.
“We have worked hard together and sacrificed so much in this province to help flatten the curve only to have some people come into our province who think they’re above it all, who think that the rules don’t apply to them. Guess what? They do.”
The provincial government says the man who tested positive for COVID-19 does not live in Nova Scotia. He flew in from the United States to Toronto and was cleared to board a flight to Halifax. He arrived in Nova Scotia on June 26 with the intention of travelling to Prince Edward Island.
“They came in here on the 26th, people from P.E.I. went to pick them up, they went to P.E.I., weren’t able to do that, and then came back to Halifax,” explained Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health.
McNeil said the man had a student visa to attend school in P.E.I., but he was turned away at the P.E.I. border because he didn't have the proper paperwork.
"So he came back here to fill out the form to go back," said McNeil.
Dr. Heather Morrison, Prince Edward Island's chief medical officer of health, said Monday that three of the province’s five new cases reported over the weekend had come in contact with a fourth person who had travelled to Nova Scotia.
Strang confirmed that the latest case in Nova Scotia is connected to some of the new cases reported in P.E.I. over the weekend.
“Following contact tracing by Prince Edward Island, related to their new COVID-19 cases, we were notified on Saturday that one of those individuals in P.E.I. had been in close contact with someone who had recently travelled into Nova Scotia from the United States and was still here in Nova Scotia,” said Strang.
“We contacted that individual on Saturday and arranged testing.”
The man is now being quarantined under federal authority at a Halifax-area hotel.
“We are in the process of … doing all the contact tracing to understand where that person may have been between June 26 when he came into the province and July 4 when he came to our attention,” said Strang.
“We’ll continue to work closely with our colleagues in both Prince Edward Island and the federal government as we follow up all these linked cases.”
N.S. to ramp up surveillance of travellers from outside Atlantic region
McNeil stressed that anyone who is not a resident of Atlantic Canada is required to self-isolate for 14 days after arriving in Nova Scotia and expressed frustration over reports of people failing to do so.
“Clearly some people who say that they will be self-isolating, but aren’t, and they are putting all of us at risk, and this is not acceptable,” said the premier.
As a result, the province is now ramping up its surveillance of visitors who come from outside the Atlantic region.
Travellers who do not live in the Atlantic provinces will now be required to provide the address of where they will be self-isolating and a phone number where they can be reached.
Starting Tuesday, a form will be available online that travellers from outside the Atlantic region must fill out and present at the border.
“There will be follow-up calls every day for 14 days. If we can’t locate them after three tries, police will be called in to do an in-person check to make sure that that person is self-isolating where they said they would be,” said McNeil.
“We know we have work to do and we’re in the process of ensuring that all of those who come in outside of the Atlantic bubble will be self-isolating within our province.”
Normalizing the wearing of masks
In order for the province to stay open, Strang warned Nova Scotians must follow public health measures.
“We can’t relax, it’s not about going back to normal, where we were pre-COVID. We have to continue to be vigilant. We rely on each of us to practise these basic preventive measures. That’s what allows us to protect each other and allows us to continue to open things up and do that safely,” said Strang.
“I’m asking and I’m appealing to all Nova Scotians, whether it’s individuals, families, business owners, employers and employees, please take this seriously. We need to continue to take all of these public health measures, but the one thing we can do a much better job on is wearing non-medical masks.”
Strang says individuals who wear masks are setting an example for others.
“It’s important that we normalize this as quickly as possible, before the second wave of COVID arrives. Once it is here, it will be too late for us to get our mask-wearing to the point where it needs to be. We need to adopt this now as a precautionary preventive measure as we move through the summer and prepare for a possible second wave in the fall,” he said.
“The same goes for physical distancing. It’s the combination of physical distancing and mask-wearing which are the most important. It’s important we do everything, but those are the critical ones that will help us to control the spread of any COVID that comes into the province.”
The QEII Health Sciences Centre's microbiology lab completed 178 Nova Scotia tests on Sunday.
“That’s typical. We see less testing on the weekend, especially on a Sunday,” said Strang of the low testing numbers.
To date, Nova Scotia has 55,113 negative test results and 1,065 positive COVID-19 cases.
Sixty-three Nova Scotians have died from COVID-19, including 53 residents of the Northwood long-term care home in Halifax.
The province says 998 cases are now considered resolved, leaving four active cases in the province.
2 people in hospital
There are still two people in hospital. Both patients' COVID-19 infections are considered resolved, but they are still receiving treatment.
The cases range in age from under 10 to over 90.
Sixty-two per cent of cases are female and 38 per cent are male.
There are cases confirmed across the province, but most have been identified in the Nova Scotia Health Authority’s central zone.
The provincial government says cumulative cases by zone may change as data is updated in Panorama, the province’s electronic information system.
The numbers reflect where a person lives, and not where their sample was collected.
- western zone: 53 cases
- central zone: 901 cases
- northern zone: 57 cases
- eastern zone: 54 cases
Symptoms and self-isolation
Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 is required to self-isolate at home, away from the public, for 14 days.
Anyone who travels to Nova Scotia from outside the Atlantic provinces must also self-isolate for two weeks.
Residents of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador no longer have to self-isolate in Nova Scotia for 14 days.
Visitors from outside the Atlantic provinces who have self-isolated in another Atlantic province for 14 days may travel to Nova Scotia without self-isolating again.
Anyone who experiences one of the following symptoms is encouraged to take an online test to determine if they should call 811 for further assessment:
- fever (i.e. chills, sweats)
- cough or worsening of a previous cough
- sore throat
- shortness of breath
- muscle aches
- nasal congestion/runny nose
- hoarse voice
- unusual fatigue
- loss of sense of smell or taste
- red, purple or blueish lesions on the feet, toes or fingers without clear cause
The provincial state of emergency has been extended until July 12.