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Coronavirus: First case of community spread identified in Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia has its first case of COVID-19 that is the result of spread within the community, according to the province.

At a press briefing on Monday, Dr. Robert Strang said public health has reached a point with one of its current investigations where they are unable to make links to travel.

“This is the individual that we thought had potential exposure at a St. Patrick’s Day event,” Strang said. “Everyone at that event has been tested. They’re now past their 14-day period. Nobody’s become sick.”

READ MORE: 12 new cases of COVID-19 identified in N.S., nursing home case confirmed

That, Strang said, allows public health officials to conclude that the individual must have been exposed somewhere else.

Strang said while this is not unexpected, it is now more important than ever for Nova Scotians to “strictly adhere to the public health orders and directives.”

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“Practice good hygiene, maintain a physical distance of two metres or six feet from others, limit essential gatherings to no more than five people and stay at home as much as possible,” he said.

5 new cases, bringing total to 127

Strang says health officials identified five new cases on Sunday after more than 600 tests were processed. Strang said four of five of the cases are travel related and one remains under investigation.

Coronavirus outbreak: 12 new cases of COVID-19 identified in N.S., physical distancing measures to be enforced
Coronavirus outbreak: 12 new cases of COVID-19 identified in N.S., physical distancing measures to be enforced

There are now 127 COVID-19 cases in Nova Scotia. Ten have since recovered and four are now in hospital.

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The individuals affected range in age from under 10 to their mid-70s. Cases have been identified in all parts of the province.

4 people test positive at long-term care facility

Two staff members and two residents at a long-term care facility in Enfield have tested positive for COVID-19, Strang announced Monday.

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“We need to work through carefully to figure out who may have been exposed,” Strang said.

Strang indicated that EHS now has a mobile testing capacity, which will be deployed to the facility so every resident and staff member can be tested.

“We’ll be making it a priority for those tests to be run in the lab,” Strang said. “This situation is creating significant staffing issues and we are supporting that facility to ensure the residents get the necessary care they need.

READ MORE: 2 employees at long-term care homes test positive for COVID-19, N.S. reaches triple digits

There are three long-term care facilities in Nova Scotia where workers have tested positive. The two others include Lewis Hall in Dartmouth and R.K. MacDonald Nursing Home in Antigonish.

Strang says all tests have come back negative at both facilities, but they’re still awaiting more results from the Antigonish facility.

‘People need to stay home’

Strand issued a reminder to Nova Scotians that the directive to keep social gatherings at five people or less isn’t a directive to socialize.

“People need to stay home, stay away from each other as much as possible,” he said. “You can, as long as you’re social distancing, walk in your community, but walk to exercise not to socialize.”

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Strang said you should only get together in social groups of five people or less if it’s “absolutely necessary.”

“It’s really important that [people] understand this.”​

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

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. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.