Accurate and Factual Information and Updates About COVID-19 in Nova Scotia
The Provincial Government website – https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus – is where people can find the most up-to-date information. The website will continue to be updated as more information is available. It is also in French - https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/fr
November 26, 2020: There is now a map on the provincial website outlining Coronavirus (COVID-19) restriction alerts by county : https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/county-restrictions/ as Nova Scotia is beginning to experience the second wave of the virus. Check by county to find out if additional restrictions and protective measures are in place. For each county, you also need to follow province-wide restrictions and protective measures. Restriction alerts by county include additional restrictions and protective measures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Testing numbers are updated daily at https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus
A state of emergency was declared under the Emergency Management Act on March 22 and extended to December 13, 2020 (updated Nov. 29, 2020).
Online booking for COVID-19 testing appointments is available for Nova Scotians getting a test at all primary assessment centres or at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax. 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/
November 26, 2020: The Provincial government continues to adapt to strengthen how the continuing care sector responds to a second wave of COVID-19. Enhancing testing strategies is one way they are doing this. Testing at Long Term Care (LTC) facilities will be targeting Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) due to the recent rise of COVID-19 activity in the area. Testing will be phased in over the coming weeks. Additional facilities outside HRM may be considered based on the epidemiology within the province and lab capacity. Testing will be available to employees who provide direct care to residents, volunteers, and designated caregivers. Click here to read more .
Additionally, measures have been put in place to protect the province's most vulnerable; visitors are not allowed to visit residents in long-term care facilities across the province from November 26 to December 9. During this period, only volunteers and designated caregivers allowed.
The same is true for adult residential centres and regional rehabilitation centres licensed by the Department of Community Services.
How does this impact LTC facilities?
Gatherings: Residents and staff can gather in groups of 5 or less for dining, recreation or socializing without physical distancing. Groups should remain consistent and visitors cannot join.
Licensed hair salons: Llicensed hair salons that operate within a long-term care home can be open to residents only. The salon must follow the guidelines set by the Cosmetology Association of Nova Scotia and submit a safety plan to the facility within which it is located. A list of every resident who visited the salon, and when, must be maintained. No procedures that require removing a mask are allowed.
Off-site bus/car trips: Facilities can offer bus trips for groups of up to 5 people (including residents, staff and driver). The trips must be for sightseeing only – residents and staff cannot disembark the bus. Bus drivers must be screened using the same protocols as visitors to a facility and contact between the driver and residents/staff should be limited. The bus must be cleaned before and after use. Facilities are expected to group the same residents together each time and maintain consistent staff, where possible. Designated caregivers can take a resident for a drive as long as they wear mask, have nobody else in the car, and make no stops.
On September 2, 2020, Minister Zack Churchill and Chief Medical Officer of Health Robert Strang provided an update on how potential cases of COVID-19 will be handled in schools. In a media release issued by the Province today, the follwoing infomraiton was included:
"Managing a case or cases of COVID-19 in a school will depend on the level of exposure and the risk to students, staff or essential visitors. The risk levels are high, moderate and low. Each risk level has an appropriate and corresponding response based on public health guidance:
-- an individual is at high risk if they are a close contact. A close contact is someone who was in close and prolonged contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 up to 48 hours before symptoms presented. This could include everyone in the class
-- an individual is at moderate risk if there has not been prolonged contact and they have maintained two metres or six feet from the confirmed case. This would include all students and staff in a shared space who were able to physically distance
-- an individual is at low risk if they have had limited or casual contact with a confirmed case. This could be incidental contact such as walking past or near the individual in a hallway or other common area
Public health and the education system are taking a cautious approach in responding to COVID-19 cases in schools, to slow the spread of the virus and keep students and staff safe. Key elements of the response to a case will include:
-- public health will immediately launch an investigation to determine and arrange testing for all close contacts. Close contacts may include everyone in the class, school bus, or before and after school program
-- all close contacts will be required to self-isolate at home while waiting for results. If they are negative, they need to complete their 14-day isolation; if they are positive, they have to isolate as a case and follow public health guidelines
-- all families at the school will be notified about the exposure and measures being taken
-- school closures due to COVID-19 will occur on the advice and recommendation of public health and only if there is deemed to be a risk to all staff and students
-- students required to self-isolate will be supported to continue their learning until they can return to school
Students who become ill while at school will be monitored, isolated away from other students and a family member will be called to pick them up. In addition to new public health measures for September, there are several other changes students and families will see:
-- the Provincial Student Attendance and Engagement Policy will be relaxed so that no student is penalized for absences due to illness this year
-- modified guidelines are in place to support the delivery of music class, band and physical education
-- families with children with special needs will continue to be supported. A new inclusive education policy announced last September will come into effect and the back to school plan ensures that students can access the support they need, where they need it, while observing COVID-19 safe practices
-- the Nova Scotia Pre-primary Program will be fully implemented across the province and this includes busing for all eligible pre-primary students
-- more students across the province will become eligible to ride the school bus, as the student transportation policy comes into effect with new provincial criteria for eligibility
The Back to School Plan for Nova Scotia is available online.
Frequently asked questions about returning to school can be found here.
On July 22, 2020, Minister Zach Churchill and Chief medical Officer of health Robert Strang announced the province's Back to School Plan. Students across Nova scotia will return to school in a full time capacity on September 8, 2020. Read the Back to School Plan , the Executive Summary , and the Report summarizing the survey results from parents and students who shared their experiences of at home learning during the pandemic in Spring of 2020. An "Education and Childcare" page has been added to the Provincial Governement's website; click here to read more.
Effective July 3, 2020, residents of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland will be able to travel amongst these 4 provinces without isolation required after crossing borders. This is called “Atlantic Canadian Bubble”, and is part of the easing of COVID-19 restrictions in Atlantic Canada.
Here is a list of Frequently Asked Questions provides by the Province: FAQ reopening Atlantic Travel Bubble July 3, 2020
On June 5, 20202, Premier McNeil and Dr. Strang announced changes to the Public Health Order to allow community graduation celebrations. Click the link for Frequently Asked Questions about this change. The media release about it is located here.
On May 29, 2020, it was announced by Premier McNeil and Dr. Strang that additional restrictions were lifted and some businesses that had been manadated to close could reopen if they are rady and have plans in place to do so safely. A summary of those changes follows:
- The new gathering limit of 10 is effective immediately. Physical distancing of two metres or six feet is still required, except among members of the same household or family household bubble.
- The limit is the same indoors and outdoors, with an exception for outdoor weddings and funeral services which can have 15 people.
- The gathering limit applies to things like social gatherings, arts and culture activities like theatre performances and dance recitals, faith gatherings, and sports and physical activity.
- The gathering limit also applies to businesses whose main function is gatherings, such as theatres, concerts, festivals and sporting activities, and to businesses that are too small to ensure physical distancing.
- Starting June 5, private campgrounds can open for all types of campers. They can only operate at 50 per cent capacity and must ensure public health protocols are followed including adequate distance between campsites.
- Provincial campgrounds will open to Nova Scotians on June 15, with the reservation line opening June 8. They will operate at a reduced capacity to ensure a minimum of 20 feet between individual campsites.
- Pools can start maintenance work to prepare for reopening, likely in time for summer. Sleepover camps are not permitted this year.
Learn more about Nova Scotia's plan to reopen the province safely at http://novascotia.ca/reopening-nova-scotia
On May 15, 2020, Premier McNeill and Dr. Strang lifted some additional measures of the State of Emergency and Public Health Order. Provincial and Municipal Beaches were opened effective May 16; the provincial ban on open fires remains in place, however campfires in chimineas and firepits are being allowed if the "Burnsafe" website indicates it is safe to do so; and households are now permitted form an "Immediate family Bubble" with one other household, which means that the members of the two households may visit each other without social distancing. Bubble households must me mutually excusive, and the households are not required to be related to each other.
Following are some information sheets about the latest developments regarding beaches, fireban and Immediate Family Bubbles:
On May 1, 2020, Premier MacNeil and Dr. Strang announced that some of the restrictions of the State of Emergency were cautiously lifted. They stressed the importance of being able to be active near home as being pivotal in their decision to slowly open some recreational opportunities. They also emphasized that people should continue to limit their non essential driving, and continue to limit shopping to essential trips, send only one per household, and plan grocery store trips so you go once per week. The virus doesn’t spread unless people move it by coming in contact with others.
Existing public health directives around social distancing and social gatherings remain in place. People must keep two metres apart and not gather in groups of more than five. They advised that if people start gathering in large groups and not maintaining safe distances, causing increases in spread of COVID-19, that the restrictions would resume.
Among the restrictions that have changed are:
-- provincial and municipal parks can reopen, along with skateparks. Playground equipment will continue to be off limits.
-- trails will reopen
-- people are allowed to use and visit community gardens
-- garden centres, nurseries and similar businesses can open
-- sportfishing is permitted from shore or boat. Fishing derbies are not allowed
-- boating, yacht or sailing clubs can allow people to preparing boats for use
-- golf driving ranges can open, including those at golf clubs. Golf course will remain closed, but they can perform necessary maintenance and preparations for opening
-- people can use their cottages. Use is restricted to one household unit, and travel must be directly to the cottage and back. Travel back and forth frequently from cottage and primary residence is discouraged
-- provincial and private campgrounds remain closed, but necessary maintenance and preparations for opening can be undertaken. An exception is seasonal recreational vehicles who are located year-round at private campgrounds. These can be used under the same rules as cottages
-- drive-in religious services will be allowed, as long as people stay in their cars, they are parked two metres apart and there are no interactions between people in cars or between people in cars and others
Please note that beaches remain closed, even those located within parks. The beach closures also applies to surfers.
For more information, please check the COVID-19 section of the Provincial website: https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/
#BeSafe #WashYourHands #DontTouchYourFace
On April 29, 2020, Premier McNeill advised that livebroadcast updates with he and Dr. Robert Strang would be held on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from then onwards. The time of the broadcast remains at 3 p.m., unless advised otherwise. The broadcasts can be seen on the Nova Scotia Government Facebook page, or on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HGfSPVf_G3U , and some television stations in NS also show them.
On April 2, 2020, a map with the data on COVID-19 cases in Nova Scotia was added to the Provincial website.
Attached are two fact sheets – one for families and one for employers / community organizations – that contain guidance on actions they can take to stay health and prevent the spread of respiratory illness. Also attached are updated handwashing posters. Our goal is to have these posters distributed as widely as possible. We recommend they be posted not only in washrooms and kitchens, but also in high traffic areas. Dr. Strang and colleagues from NSHA and IWK provided an update about COVID-19 preparedness. This press conference can be watched at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HGfSPVf_G3U
Download fact sheets and informational posters here:
April 8, 2020
Provincial website: https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/ Follow the Department of Business on Twitter - @NS_DoB
Follow Nova Scotia government on Instagram - nsgov To watch today’s (and previous) live webcasts visit:
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLwLZ9YtgHtLCpATUVFKVf72xyF103eHaE Government of Canada: https://canada.ca/coronavirus
Government of Canada toll-free information line 1-833-784-4397
SUMMARY OF PROVINCIAL ANNOUNCEMENTS
Refer to novascotia.ca/news for full details
April 8, 2020
Information provided by the Canadian Banking Association:
Are steps being taken to train technology-reluctant people how to use ATMs and online banking. Infographics, etc.?
Member banks have a wide range of channels available to assist customers with their banking during this difficult time. Customers are encouraged to use always-on digital channels, including online and mobile banking options, telephone banking and ABM functionalities before going to their bank branch, in order to minimize in-person interactions in alignment with current social distancing objectives. Banks have committed resources to educate customers on digital alternatives to in-branch alternatives. Below here are the ways people can get the information they need:
- Learn about relief programs through most bank websites;
- Appointments can be booked online to speak with your bank over the phone at a specific time;
- Dedicated COVID-19 pages on bank websites are frequently updated with detailed information about how banks are supporting clients;
- With some branches temporarily closing and adjusting opening hours, mobile apps are full of rich features with plenty of functions to pay bills, transfer money or chat interactively; and
- The ABM network is available in locations across Canada.
Also, are banks still providing face-to-face transactions at this point? The is an issue for seniors feeling they have to give their bank cards and PIN to a neighbour, family member, or someone else in order to get cash or do other banking.
Yes. Member banks which operate retail branches have temporarily adjusted which branches remain open and hours of operation to best serve bank customers while maximizing safety to mitigate the pandemic risk.
In keeping with expert guidance from Canada’s public health authorities, and out of concern for the health and safety of employees and customers, banks in Canada made a responsible decision to minimize person-to-person interaction through strategic approaches. This helps achieve the objective of social distancing while continuing to provide the full range of banking services that customers need now. Bank customers are encouraged to contact their bank, or visit their bank’s dedicated COVID-19 webpage, to determine options available to them in order to continue to bank safely during these challenging times.
April 1, 2020: General Process of How Public Health Handles a Confirmed Case of COVID-19
For an individual:
- An individual who suspects they have COVID-19 must visit the 811 site to answer the self questionnaire. If advised, they can then call 811 to speak to a Registered Nurse. Only 811 can direct an individual to go to an assessment site to be tested.
- An individual can only be tested at an assessment site to confirm if they have contracted COVID-19. They must take care that they are not inadvertently spreading a potential contamination during their travel to the assessment site (cough into elbow, don’t touch surfaces or face, wash/sanitize hands as frequently as possible). There are many people that think they may have it based on symptoms but unless they have tested positive, it is not a confirmed case.
- Once tested, if the case is positive, the individual will receive a call from the local Public Health office and the information relayed over the phone after a series of questions verified to ensure they are speaking to the correct individual.
- The individual will then be given steps they must follow, i.e. quarantine for 14 days, separate themselves from the rest of the household, no going out for any errands, find someone to bring groceries or they will assist with a referral if necessary.
- There will be daily check-ins with the individual and the public health office or a Registered Nurse.
- After 10 days from the onset, the individual will be assessed by a Registered Nurse to go through the beginning stages of being cleared. If the Registered Nursefeels the case can be cleared based on public health procedures, the case will be referred to the local Medical Officer of Health.
- Only the local Medical Officer of Health can clear a case. (Note: the individual may still have a cough but could still be cleared).
- The individual does not get a written notice they are cleared, unless requested.
What this means to an employer:
- If the office is still open and the employee was working in the office when they contracted COVID-19, the employer will be reached out to by public health as they would have been a “contact” of the individual.
- If the employee was not working in the workplace at the time, the employer will not be informed by public health so it is the responsibility of the employee to notify the employer they are sick through the regular HUman Resources procedure they have in place.
- If the employee was in contact with the workplace, the employer has to follow direction from Public Health about cleaning the work space. This process will be situation dependent, based on the individual case, work space, and the contacts involved.
- Once the employee is allowed to return to work, they should contact you following their assessment from the Medical Officer of Health who has cleared them.
- As an employer, you can request a letter that they are clear. In order to get a letter, you have to ask the employee to request a letter from the Registered Nurse they were dealing with. This is not an automatic procedure so if the employer wants it, for privacy reasons, it must be done through the employee.
All positive cases of COVID-19 are reported to Public Health through the lab testing processes. Anyone with a confirmed case of COVID-19 will be contacted by Public Health and they will work to determine who their close contacts are. If co-workers are identified as close contacts, Public Health will follow up with those individuals, typically within 24 hours, with instructions to self isolate. All other employees should continue to practice good hand hygiene and use cough and sneeze etiquette. Physical distance of 2 metres, or six feet, must be maintained in the workplace.
There is no requirement for businesses to close if an employee has tested positive.
Businesses that are open must take the following steps to keep employees and customers healthy: - Maintain a two-metre, or six-foot, distance among employees and customers
- Clean and disinfect workplaces a minimum of twice a day, or as required
- Employees must follow proper hand-washing and other hygiene guidelines
To clean and disinfect workspaces, wash with soapy water first. Then disinfect using household cleaning products, following the directions on the label, or a solution of 1 part bleach to 9 parts water. Disinfect phones, remotes, computers, and other handheld devices with 70% alcohol or wipes.
Sharps Disposal Notice
March 20, 2020: Sharps (needles, syringes and lancets) cannot be put in your garbage or recycling
- Residents are advised that sharps are not being accepted at pharmacies due to the COVID-19 virus
- Pharmacies currently do not have a supply of safe sharps buckets
- In the meantime residents are asked to safely store used sharps in a sturdy container with a lid that can be sealed (ex. laundry detergent jug)