A university student infected with COVID-19 did not self-isolate after arriving in the province to attend Université Sainte-Anne in Church Point, N.S., the Nova Scotia government said Tuesday.
The student travelled from outside Atlantic Canada and is one of six active cases of the coronavirus in the province, according to a news release.
"The positive and probable cases we announced yesterday are the reason we have a testing strategy in place for post-secondary students. It's helping us detect and manage cases early," Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health for Nova Scotia, said in the release.
"The testing strategy does not replace the need to follow other public health measures. The combination of testing, self-isolating and digital check-ins will help to ensure the safety of all students, faculty and staff, and their neighbouring communities."
Université Sainte-Anne responds
In a statement on Tuesday, Université Sainte-Anne said the school was told by public health officials that the risk of exposure to others was low and that no close contacts have been identified.
The university said the student with the positive case will isolate.
"This demonstrates why we have a testing strategy in place for post-secondary students. It allows us to detect and manage cases early," the statement read.
The university said it has also had public health protocols in place since the start of the pandemic, like encouraging frequent handwashing and physical distancing. It also requires everyone wear non-medical masks in all of its campuses and in most of indoor public places.
The university plans to open the Church Point campus on Wednesday.
Other student cases
On Monday, the province announced the case involving the Université Sainte-Anne student, a new case in the eastern zone, and two probable cases involving a student at Dalhousie University in Halifax and one at Acadia University in Wolfville.
The province said both the Dalhousie and Acadia students have been self-isolating since arriving from outside the Atlantic bubble. Their test results came back indeterminate, which the province said can happen when someone previously had COVID-19 or is tested before the virus is "fully detectable."
They are not included in the province's total number of cases, but the government said the two cases are being treated as lab-confirmed positives to make sure all precautions are taken.
Speaking at a news conference about expanding high-speed internet access on Tuesday, Premier Stephen McNeil said the public health team is taking the lead on testing students during their period of self-isolation.
"We're very encouraged that the system is working," McNeil told reporters, adding that universities and communities have been fully co-operative.
"We wanted to give, particularly rural communities, reassurance that we are on top of this. It also is a great opportunity for us to see thousands of people come into our province and gives us a real sense of how active this virus is as it's moving."
McNeil said they will continue to follow the epidemiology as public schools reopen, working with public health "to make sure our online portal is working and then start identifying with higher screening at the airport as people are coming in."
Students must check in
Carole Rankin, a spokesperson with the Department of Health, said in an emailed statement that the province estimates 6,500 university students will come from outside Atlantic Canada this year, all of whom will be required to self-isolate and be tested for COVID-19.
Rankin said students requiring self-isolation are being directed to a digital check-in service that asks questions about their self-isolation, including if they are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, and if so, to call 811 immediately.
"A reminder email goes out at 8 a.m. every day to those in self-isolation reminding them to complete their check-in," Rankin said. "For students, there are questions about their self-isolation activities, where their response could trigger an email to their university to follow up, if required."
She said students who do not check in are also flagged for a follow up with their university.
767 tests done on Monday
The province reported no new cases Tuesday. On Monday, 767 tests were done by the Nova Scotia Health Authority's labs.
Nova Scotia has had 1,085 positive COVID-19 cases and 65 deaths related to the coronavirus. No one is currently in hospital.
The latest numbers from around the Atlantic bubble are:
New Brunswick has three active cases but reported no new cases Tuesday.
Newfoundland and Labrador has one active case as of Monday.
P.E.I. has three active cases as of Monday.
Anyone with the following symptoms of COVID-19 should go to this website to see if they should call 811 for further assessment:
Fever (chills, sweats).
Cough or worsening of a previous cough.
Shortness of breath.
Nasal congestion/runny nose.
Loss of sense of smell or taste.
Red, purple or bluish lesions on the feet, toes or fingers that do not have a clear cause.
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