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NSHA opens coronavirus assessment centres across the province

Click to play video 'N.S. restricts access to long-term care homes amid coronavirus concerns' N.S. restricts access to long-term care homes amid coronavirus concerns
WATCH: Multiple assessment centres are now up and running in Nova Scotia as health-care professionals are expecting the eventual arrival of COVID-19. As Alexa MacLean reports, the centres are the newest measures designed to deal with a potential influx of people with symptoms.

The Nova Scotia Health Authority announced Tuesday that it has opened COVID-19 assessment centres across the province to help detect and contain the novel coronavirus in Nova Scotia where, to date, no cases have been confirmed.

According to the NSHA, the assessment centres are meant to help lessen current pressures in emergency departments, while also decreasing the possibility of transmission among the public.

The NSHA is calling these locations “COVID-19 assessment centres” because it wants to make it clear that while people may be sent to the sites by 811 for a physical assessment, “they will not necessarily be tested (swabbed), based on symptoms.”

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People at assessment sites will be given a mask and have their travel history reviewed. Then it will be determined whether people can return home safely with instructions to self-isolate, or to be admitted to hospital.

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“We expedited opening these COVID-19 assessment centres to respond to increased assessment demand as a result of the change in national screening protocols,” said Dr. Todd Hatchette, chief of microbiology with the Nova Scotia Health Authority.

Click to play video 'Coronavirus outbreak: NSHA opens assessment centres across the province' Coronavirus outbreak: NSHA opens assessment centres across the province
Coronavirus outbreak: NSHA opens assessment centres across the province

The change in national screening protocols means anyone who has travelled outside Canada may have come in contact with the novel coronavirus and should closely monitor their health for 14 days after returning to the country.

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“Travellers who start to feel unwell should stay at home/self-isolate from the public,” NSHA stated.

Nova Scotians who have travelled out of the country and who develop a fever with a temperature of 38 C or higher, and/or a cough, are also advised to call 811.

The NSHA said if there is a need for in-person assessment, 811 will refer you to a COVID-19 assessment centre.

“We want Nova Scotians to be able to access the right care, in the right setting, at the right times,” said Hatchette. “The resources of our health system are already strained by the seasonal flu and other demands.”

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“These COVID-19 assessment centres are another measure that will focus our work on testing those who most require it and to also help lessen the pressure on the rest of our system. We ask for the public’s patience and cooperation as we respond to this quickly evolving situation.”

The assessment centres are located in eight different places, which include Cape Breton Regional Hospital, Yarmouth Regional Hospital and Valley Regional Hospital.

More to come…