Nova Scotians were warned of four possible COVID-19 exposures in Halifax on Friday as the province announced people can now schedule a COVID-19 test online.
Premier Stephen McNeil said Friday it will greatly reduce how long it takes to set up a test, as well as shorten the time to receive results.
Tests can be scheduled for all primary assessment centres in the province and the IWK Health Centre. The swish, gargle and spit test is now also available for children at all primary testing sites.
"Our message to all Nova Scotians is if they feel unwell, go online and do the online assessment," said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health.
The province said there were four new possible COVID-19 exposures in Halifax:
Economy Shoe Shop Bar & Restaurant on Argyle St. on Nov. 8 between 8:30 p.m. and 11 p.m. Anyone at the bar during this time should monitor for symptoms of COVID-19. It is expected that anyone exposed to the virus here may develop symptoms up to and including Nov. 22.
John W. Lindsay YMCA Gym at 5640 Sackville St. on Nov. 9-10 between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m. Anyone who was in the gym section of the facility during this time should monitor for COVID-19 symptoms. It is expected that anyone exposed to the virus here may develop symptoms up to, and including, Nov. 24.
The Local Restaurant and Bar at 2037 Gottingen St. on Nov. 9 between 4 p.m. to close. Anyone at the bar during this time should monitor for symptoms of COVID-19, which may develop up until Nov. 23.
Tim Hortons at 36 Verdi Dr., Bedford Commons, Bedford on Nov. 12 from 6:30 a.m. to 8 a.m. Anyone at this spot during this time should monitor for symptoms of COVID-19, which may develop up until Nov. 26.
2 new cases; active total of 19
Two new cases of COVID-19 were also reported Friday in Nova Scotia, bringing the total number of active cases to 19.
One new case was in the northern zone and related to travel outside of Atlantic Canada. That person has self-isolated.
The other case was in the central zone and remained under investigation, according to a news release. The province said there was no link to the cluster in Clayton Park.
Strang said he was "feeling less anxious" about the Clayton Park cluster, where there were 11 cases. There have been no new cases associated with that area since Tuesday.
He also said the province has decided against opening up a testing site in Bayers Lake to deal with those cases because it's no longer considered necessary.
Strang said Nova Scotians need to look at decreasing their social contacts over the next six to eight weeks in the effort to keep case numbers down.
"All of us need to think about, how many people are we in contact with in our day?" Strang said.
"Here in Nova Scotia it's not about flattening the curve, it's actually being in front of the curve so we don't need to flatten it. It's a preventative measure for us."
He also said a point person has been established to work with guidelines in the continuing care centre, looking to bring in periodic testing of long-term care staff.
More on Christmas rules
As the Christmas holidays approach, Strang said Public Health is working with students, the restaurant sector and businesses to help prevent the spread of the virus.
He said more details and clear direction for how businesses can safely operate will be coming soon, adding that malls will have to figure out how to manage the growing number of people and stay within the Public Health rules.
"Ultimately it's the responsibility of Nova Scotians. If you're going to a mall, what are you doing to make sure you're physically distanced? What are you doing to make sure that unless you don't have a valid reason, that you're wearing a mask and wearing it properly?"
Strang said any student who leaves the Atlantic bubble will have to isolate for 14 days, but they have been working with colleagues in education to support them.
Any student from outside of the bubble who wants to return for Christmas will also have to quarantine, but Strang said they should strongly consider not coming back for the holidays.
He said as tough as that may be, the best choice would be for them to remain where they are studying.
Strang said they have also made sure international students who do not have health insurance are able to be tested for COVID-19 for free.
"Our collective fate for COVID is in our own hands," Strang said.
The Nova Scotia Health Authority completed 1,260 tests on Thursday.
On Thursday afternoon, the province sent out an advisory for a potential COVID-19 exposure at Atlantic Superstore in Halifax.
Anyone who was at the Barrington Street store between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. on Nov. 7 should self-monitor for COVID symptoms.
Overall, Nova Scotia has recorded 1,136 positive cases and 65 deaths related to the virus.
The latest numbers from around the Atlantic bubble are:
Anyone with one of the following symptoms should visit the COVID-19 self-assessment website or call 811:
Cough or worsening of a previous cough.
Anyone with two or more of the following symptoms is also asked to visit the website or call 811:
Shortness of breath.
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