HALIFAX — About 150 people showed up to the Dome nightclub in Halifax on Saturday night, but it wasn’t to dance or get a drink.
They were there to get a rapid COVID-19 test, as part of a pilot screening program aimed at bar staff and patrons in downtown Halifax.
The Nova Scotia government launched the project amid growing concerns about community transmission in Halifax, particularly among young people.
“We are having a problem with 18- to 35-year-olds,” Premier Stephen McNeil told a press conference on Friday afternoon. “They are going out when they are feeling sick, they are going out in large groups, and quite frankly different groups, and they’re not distancing. They’re living as if COVID does not exist.”
Of the approximately 150 rapid tests done on Saturday night, one patron's test came back positive, according to a Sunday release from the provincial department of health.
That positive test was not included in the 11 new cases announced in the province on Sunday. Instead, officials are waiting for the results of the person’s regular COVID-19 test, which they say is much more accurate.
Nova Scotia reported 19 new cases of COVID-19 over the weekend, bringing the total number of active infections in the province to 44. Saturday and Sunday’s case increases were the largest the province has seen in several months.
"The majority of new cases we are seeing involve social interactions -- people who may or may not be symptomatic going downtown with friends and staying for several hours," said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, in Sunday’s release. "Last night's pilot provides us more information as our testing and screening strategy continues to evolve."
Dalhousie University also confirmed Sunday that two of its off-campus students are among the province's latest cases. In a release, the school said the students are self-isolating and studying virtually, and that they are “not associated with our residence community.”
Beginning Monday, anyone in the province eating at a restaurant will have to provide their name and phone number for contract tracing and close social gatherings in most of the Halifax Regional Municipality will be limited to five people.
Nova Scotia has had 1,170 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the onset of the pandemic, including 65 deaths.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 22, 2020.
The Canadian Press