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NSHA expects increased number of people to test for coronavirus after March break

This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, orange, emerging from the surface of cells, green, cultured in the lab.
This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, orange, emerging from the surface of cells, green, cultured in the lab. NIAID-RML via AP

The Nova Scotia Health Authority says it expects to eventually see a COVID-19 case in Nova Scotia as more cases in Canada get confirmed, but to date there have been no cases in the province.

“We are in containment stage,” said Bethany McCormick, senior director at the NSHA.

McCormick and Dr. Todd Hatchette, chief of microbiology at the NSHA, addressed media questions regarding its COVID-19 planning and operations in a conference on Thursday afternoon.

READ MORE: NSHA opens coronavirus assessment centres across the province

Hatchette said that he expects to see an increased volume of people after March break monitoring and testing for the virus as they come back from their travels.

“No one likes to line up for long periods of time,” said Hatchette.

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Coronavirus outbreak: NSHA coordinating with partners on ventilator availability
Coronavirus outbreak: NSHA coordinating with partners on ventilator availability

He added that long waits and lineups are one of the main challenges the NSHA is addressing by advising people to call 811 first.

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“Calling 811 helps prevent these lineups because it would determine if the person needs to go to the assessment centre, what to expect and what time to come in,” Hatchette said.

Moreover, McCormick said that home testing for the virus is also an option that will soon be available.

Coronavirus outbreak: NSHA encourages people to call 811 before going to assessment centres
Coronavirus outbreak: NSHA encourages people to call 811 before going to assessment centres

But for now, the NSHA has increased the number of assessment centres, which are located close to an emergency room, so that people can get the help they need more quickly.

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According to Hatchette, the turnaround time for coronavirus test results is two to three days.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: NSHA hospitals and IWK limiting number of visitors

As of March 6, the work underway by the NSHA includes:

  • Implementing a patient screening process for use by frontline health-care workers.
  • Monitoring and investigating potential cases.
  • Applying effective public health and infection control measures.
  • Establishing working groups focused on disease surveillance, health system impact monitoring, models of care, supplies and resource management.
  • Working with Nova Scotia’s Emergency Management Office and other non-health partners on business continuity planning.
  • Sharing accurate, up-to-date information with its partners and Nova Scotians