Restrictions Extended, More Asymptomatic Testing Rolls Out Across the Province

The Covid Chronicle

**** HEALTH/WELLNESS Media Release

Restrictions Extended, More Asymptomatic Testing Rolls Out Across the Province
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Premier Stephen McNeil and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang announced today, Dec. 4, that the current restrictions in areas of Halifax Regional Municipality and Hants County are extended until at least Dec. 16.

They also announced the launch of a period of asymptomatic testing across the province. The purpose is to limit the potential spread of the virus by detecting positive cases in people who do not have symptoms.

“For the past week, we have had double-digit case numbers daily and most of them are in the areas where we added restrictions last week. These restrictions are important to help us slow the spread of COVID-19,” said Premier McNeil. “We have also ramped up testing significantly as a key measure in containing the virus. Adding more opportunities for asymptomatic testing is another way of enhancing our testing strategy.”

Asymptomatic testing is currently happening at the Zatzman Sportsplex in Dartmouth, the only site for asymptomatic testing in the Central Zone. No appointments are required. Asymptomatic testing will start in all other zones next week and information about how to get a test will be provided Monday.

Testing is recommended for people who:
— are 16 to 35 years old, even if they previously tested negative
— have attended an indoor social gathering without physical distancing in the last two weeks, especially if it was larger than the gathering limits in place for that community
— have a large number of regular social interactions with different groups without physical distancing

The number of tests that can be done is based on the need to prioritize testing of people who have symptoms and close contacts of known cases. Not everyone who comes forward for an asymptomatic test will necessarily get one.

In addition, pop-up sites will continue in different locations around the province. Anyone age 16 or older is welcome to get tested if they do not have symptoms and are not at higher risk of exposure, which means they:
— are not a close contact of a known case
— have not been at a location listed in an exposure notice that recommends testing
— have not traveled outside the Atlantic provinces within the past 14 days

People getting tested through this process are not required to self-isolate while waiting for their test or results. People getting tested for other reasons can find their self-isolation requirements at http://www.nshealth.ca/what-do-i-need-know-about-covid-19-testing-and-self-isolation.

“We have been seeing transmission primarily in this young age group through social interactions, so I strongly encourage people who fit this criteria to get tested,” said Dr. Strang. “I’m also asking everyone to make safe choices now and through the holiday season – keep your social circles small, wear a mask in indoor public places and avoid people who are at high risk. It’s also very important to monitor yourself closely and get tested if you develop symptoms.”

A negative test result is a good indication that a person is not able to spread the COVID-19 virus at the time of testing but it does not mean that they could not become infectious in the next few days. People who receive a negative test result must continue to follow public health measures and if they develop symptoms, immediately self-isolate and complete the COVID-19 self-assessment.

Testing for rotational workers who don’t have symptoms started today, Dec. 4. They can book an appointment through the COVID-19 self-assessment (https://covid-self-assessment.novascotia.ca/en) for day 6, 7 or 8 of their modified self-isolation. They must complete the full 14 days of modified self-isolation, even if they have a negative test result. There is no end date for this testing.

While the testing is voluntary, it is strongly recommended as an added layer of protection for rotational workers, their families and their communities. Testing at this time is late enough to increase the chances of detecting the virus if the worker was exposed while away, and still early enough to isolate household contacts before they spread the virus to others.

(Original post) Nova Scotians are being asked to avoid non-essential travel:
— in and out of western and central HRM (which is defined as HRM from Hubbards to, and including, Porters Lake and the communities up to Elmsdale and Mount Uniacke in Hants County – see https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/ for boundaries).
— to other Atlantic provinces

The following will apply to the parts of western and central HRM:
— the gathering limit in public is five (or up to the number of members of an immediate family in a household)
— mandatory masking now applies to common areas of multi-unit residential buildings, such as apartment buildings and condos
— restaurants and licenced establishments are closed for in-person dining but may provide take-out or delivery
— retail stores must restrict shoppers and staff to 25 per cent or less of allowable capacity
— wineries, distilleries and breweries cannot hold tastings or in-person dining and must follow retail rules in their stores (delivery and curbside pickup allowed)
— organized sports, recreational, athletic, arts and cultural activities, faith-based activities are paused
— profit and non-profit fitness and recreational facilities closed
— libraries and museums are closed, including the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia
— the casino and First Nations gaming establishments are closed
— stronger enforcement of illegal gatherings, including ticketing of all attendees (total fine of $1,000)

Schools, after-school programs and childcare will remain open while certain personal services businesses such as hairstylists, estheticians and nail salons in western and central HRM can continue except procedures that cannot be done while a patron is masked.

The following new restrictions apply across the province:
— to protect our most vulnerable, there will be no visitors except volunteers and designated caregivers to long-term care facilities and Adult Residential Centres and Regional Rehabilitation Centres licensed by the Department of Community Services
— sports teams are restricted to local or regional play only
— no extracurricular activities between schools

To further protect our most vulnerable, staff, volunteers and designated caregivers at long-term facilities in HRM will undergo voluntary, bi-weekly testing. Testing will be phased-in starting No

Quick Facts:
— a complete list of restrictions and the communities they apply to is available at https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/county-restrictions/
— more information about COVID-19 testing is available at http://www.nshealth.ca/content/covid-19-testing
— more information about self-isolation and testing for rotational workers is available at https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/docs/rotational-workers-self-isolation-and-testing-factsheet.pdf
— visit https://covid-self-assessment.novascotia.ca/ to do a self-assessment if you have symptoms and book a test if recommended – only call 811 if you cannot do the self-assessment online

Additional Resources:
Government of Canada: https://canada.ca/coronavirus

Government of Canada information line 1-833-784-4397 (toll-free)

The Mental Health Provincial Crisis Line is available 24/7 to anyone experiencing a mental health or addictions crisis, or someone concerned about them, by calling 1-888-429-8167 (toll-free)

Kids Help Phone is available 24/7 by calling 1-800-668-6868 (toll-free)

For help or information about domestic violence 24/7, call 1-855-225-0220 (toll-free)

For more information about COVID-19 testing and online booking, visit https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/symptoms-and-testing/

The COVID-19 self-assessment is at https://covid-self-assessment.novascotia.ca/

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