Thirteen new cases of COVID-19 have been identified in Nova Scotia, including a child under the age of 10, the provincial government says.
According to a news release on Monday, all the cases are travel-related or connected to earlier reported cases.
“Several of the new cases are connected and involve groups or families who have returned to Nova Scotia following travel outside of Canada,” the province said in a news release.
There are now 41 positive cases of the novel coronavirus in Nova Scotia. The 41 individuals affected range in age from under 10 to in their mid-70s, the province says.
Cases have now been identified in all parts of the province, with one patient still in hospital.
“At this point, there has been no spread within communities,” the province stated.
Public health officials have been in contact with these individuals and are working to identify others who may have come in close contact with them. Those individuals are also being directed to self-isolate at home, away from the public, for 14 days.
State of emergency
On Sunday, Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil declared a state of emergency while also limiting public gatherings to no more than five people.
McNeil announced that police now have the ability to enforce social distancing and self-isolation under the Health Protection Act . Those who don’t comply can be handed a summary offence ticket of $1,000 for individuals and $7,500 for businesses for each violation.
Individuals and businesses can be fined on multiple days. McNeil also announced the province would be tightening provincial borders, announcing that anyone arriving in Nova Scotia must self-isolate for 14 days, except for essential services.
Speaking at Monday’s press briefing, McNeil said an essential service line is being created for those who need to get across the border.
Dr. Robert Strang, the province’s chief medical officer of health, clarified that anyone arriving in the province that isn’t an essential service worker must go directly their homes.
“Do not stop at the grocery store, go to the office, or visit family and friends,” Strang said. “If you need groceries, other essentials, make arrangements with family and friends to help you out with that.”
‘The system is working’
Speaking at Monday’s press briefing, Strang said the fact that none of the confirmed cases involve community spread is “an indication of success.”
Strang said the majority of Nova Scotians are heeding public health’s advice to self-isolate and limit their exposure to others.
“People are doing what we’re asking them to do,” said Strang. “When they get sick, they’re calling 811, getting in for assessment, then going home and self-isolating.”
“The system is working … while we’re getting cases, we’re limiting the ability of this virus to spread throughout Nova Scotia.”
Strang added that system will only be successful if everyone continues to work together.
McNeil agreed, reiterating that self-isolation is the “number one way” to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“It is your obligation to your fellow Nova Scotians to find yourself at home,” he said.
Closure of parks and beaches
As part of the state of emergency declaration on Sunday, the province closed all provincial parks and beaches, but kept provincial trails open. McNeil said public health advice was not being followed over the weekend, with people gathering in large numbers at beaches and parks.
The Halifax Regional Municipality followed suit, but included the closure of city trails.
When asked specifically which trials are open and which aren’t, McNeil said if you have to drive, you’re going too far.
“What we need you to do is walk for exercise, not to socialize,” McNeil said. “You can do that in your community. If you live near a trail, go on the trail. But if you’re driving to go in the parking lot, stay in your own community.”
“Walk the block, walk around the house … but we’re asking people not to drive to public spaces.”
‘You’ve got this’
Premier McNeil concluded Monday’s press conference with a message to all the Nova Scotians whose lives have been altered by self-isolation.
“I know this is hard, but you’ve got this,” he said. “To our seniors, many of whom are home alone, and who can’t see their grandchildren and get that hug, hold tight.
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“Know that you are loved, and we want to keep you safe.”