Elective surgeries postponed in N.S. after doctors, staff told to quarantine

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At least 20 patients in Nova Scotia had their scheduled elective surgeries postponed this week after surgical team members were told to self-isolate because of possible exposure to COVID-19.

Brendan Elliott, a spokesperson for Nova Scotia Health, said "a number of staff and physicians" were identified as close contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases or were at potential exposure locations within Halifax and surrounding areas.

"It is expected that additional surgeries will be impacted next week and patients will be contacted directly if their surgery is unable to proceed," Elliott said in an email. "We regret this situation and will work to notify and reschedule patients as quickly as possible."

The surgeries that were postponed had been scheduled to take place Thursday and Friday.

Urgent surgeries not impacted

Elliott said staff members were working to adjust operating room schedules and reassign teams to available OR slots "so that as many other surgeries as possible" could go ahead.

Access to emergency and urgent surgeries was not affected, but officials were monitoring the situation and the impact on staffing "very closely," he added.

Elliott said Thursday that fewer than five health-care workers across the province had tested positive for COVID-19 in recent weeks.

On Friday, Nova Scotia reported nine new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of active cases in the province to 119. Almost all of them were in the Central Zone, which includes the Halifax Regional Municipality.

Testing for health-care workers

The province had identified more than 100 sites of potential exposure to COVID-19 as of Friday. A full list of active exposures can be found here.

Nova Scotia Health said health-care workers who were at certain locations would not be permitted to report to work and would require testing. They would also be required to stay home from work for 14 days after the potential exposure, even if the test was negative.

"These measures are necessary to protect our patients and other providers from the spread of COVID-19 within our facilities," said Elliott.