**** HEALTH/WELLNESS Media Release
Expanding Testing to Identify Community Spread
More options for testing of COVID-19 were announced today, April 5, to help identify spread within Nova Scotia communities.
The province will work with the Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) and Emergency Health Services (EHS) on the following options: temporary primary assessment centres, EHS assessment units, a mobile assessment centre and expanded lab testing.
“This virus is in our communities, it’s dangerous and it’s up to all of us to slow it down,” said Premier Stephen McNeil. “Expanding testing will help us identify and respond more quickly to spread in communities but the best defence continues to be following the public health orders. People need to stay home.”
More detail on the four expanded testing options includes:
— temporary primary assessment centres: will be established in communities with more known cases. The first temporary assessment centre opened today, April 5, in Elmsdale. Like the other assessment centres, people must be referred by 811. Those directed to an assessment centre will have a physical assessment onsite and swabbed if appropriate
— mobile assessment centre: NSHA is working on a mobile assessment centre. Once operational, the centre could be brought into communities temporarily to do assessment and testing
— EHS assessment units: there are now two mobile units, one in the Halifax Regional Municipality and one for the most populated areas of Cape Breton Regional Municipality, staffed by paramedics trained to do at-home testing. They will be used for people who have mobility issues and cannot get to an assessment centre or in situations where a cluster of testing needs to be done, for example at a long-term care home. When someone is referred to an assessment centre via 811, it will be determined whether an EHS assessment unit should be used
— expanded lab capacity: to accommodate the increase in testing, starting April 6, the QEII Health Sciences Centre Microbiology Lab will move to full 24-hour operations. The lab will be capable of processing over 1,000 tests per day
“Expanding our testing options means we have the ability to act quickly if we’re seeing clusters of disease in communities or locations and ensures we’re able to accommodate vulnerable Nova Scotians and those living in harder-to-reach communities,” said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health. “But testing is only half the battle. We know the disease is in our communities and that’s why it’s more important than ever before to keep your physical distance and only gather in groups of no more than five if it’s absolutely essential to reduce the spread of this virus.”
Today Nova Scotia announced 26 new cases of COVID-19 for a total of 262 positive cases to date. Nova Scotia has 9,510 negative test results.
Nova Scotians can find accurate, up-to-date information, handwashing posters and fact sheets at http://novascotia.ca/coronavirus .
— testing numbers are updated daily at http://novascotia.ca/coronavirus
— Nova Scotia’s Health Protection Act gives the chief medical officer of health the authority to give advice to protect public health and decrease risk to public health presented by communicable diseases such as COVID-19
— a state of emergency was declared under the Emergency Management Act on March 22 and remains in effect until noon, April 19
— there are 22 primary assessment centres in Nova Scotia: 21 operated by the NSHA and one operated by the IWK Health Centre
Government of Canada: http://canada.ca/coronavirus
Government of Canada toll-free information line 1-833-784-4397
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).