The Nova Scotia government has added to its already long list of restrictions on businesses after the number of coronavirus cases in the province nearly doubled on Wednesday.
Effective Thursday at midnight, Premier Stephen McNeil said all hair salons, barber shops, spas, nail salons, body art establishments and gyms must close.
The province is also actively looking at whether to close regulated health professions such as dentists and physiotherapists. McNeil says they’ll have further details in the days to come.
Also closing are all service providers funded through the Department of Community Service’s Disability Support Program, including social enterprise, day programs, and supported programs for adults with diverse abilities.
On Tuesday, McNeil announced that public gatherings have to be limited to no more than 50 people. He also said restaurants will be take-out only and all drinking establishments must close in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus.
5 new presumptive cases, bringing total to 12
Officials announced Wednesday that there are now nine presumptive and three confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in Nova Scotia.
In a news release, the province said there are four new presumptive cases of travel-related COVID-19 and one connected to an earlier case.
The 12 individuals affected range in age from their early 30s to mid-70s. They are all in self-isolation and recovering at home, according to the province.
“Public health has been in contact with these individuals and working to identify others who may have come in close contact with them,” the release reads.
“Those individuals are also being directed to self-isolate at home, away from the public, for 14 days.”
The province says the cases are located across Nova Scotia and that northern Nova Scotia is the only region without a positive case of COVID-19.
“The province is testing daily, working with our partners at the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg,” the release said.
There have now been 1,141 negative test results.
Hospital workforce expanding, Delorey says
During Wednesday’s press briefing, Health Minister Randy Delorey said the province is working with its partners to expand the available workforce of both doctors and nurses.
“This includes working with the College of Physicians and Surgeons to waive fees for retired doctors to be licensed, to make it faster for them to support our health-care system,” Delorey said.
He added that the province is working to bring in more nurses, including more opportunities for casual workers, recent graduates and retirees.
“811 is working to expand services, and to date 26 RNs have completed their training to support this work and 70 more are being trained,” Delorey said.
811 is adding 11 trained triage assessors, with 17 more in the training queue.
Tighter restrictions in hospitals
The IWK Health Centre and the Nova Scotia Health Authority increased visitor restrictions at hospitals on Wednesday.
Both announced they would no longer be allowing general visitors, expect for one support person each for pediatric patients and women in labour.
The IWK and NSHA say the decision is to “protect the health of patients and staff and ensure continued safe care delivery.”
“We understand the difficulty that this creates for our families, however preventing the possibility of spread of this virus within the health centre which could have significant implications is paramount,” Dr. Krista Jangaard, president and CEO of the IWK, said in a statement.
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Health officials say the risk is low for Canadians but warn this could change quickly. They caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are asked to self- isolate for 14 days in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others.
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. And if you get sick, stay at home.
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