Nova Scotia’s first death connected to COVID-19 was announced on Tuesday, as the total number of cases in the province surpassed 300.
According to the province, a woman in her 70s with underlying medical conditions died in hospital in the eastern zone as a result of complications related to COVID-19.
“There are no words that I can say to take away the pain and suffering that your family is experiencing today,” Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil said at a press briefing Tuesday. “I hope that you know this entire province has its arms wrapped around you as a family as you go through this very, very difficult time.”
Dr. Robert Strang, the province’s chief public health officer, says the woman death illustrates the sad reality that people die from COVID-19.
“It is a serious issue,” he said. “It’s why we’re doing what we’re doing. If we just did nothing and let COVID-19 blaze through our communities, it would be over soon but we would have hundreds and hundreds of preventable deaths.”
Over 300 cases in Nova Scotia
The province announced 17 new cases on Tuesday, bringing the provincial total to 310.
Eleven are now in hospital, 66 have recovered and 10,621 tests have come back negative.
There are 11 new cases in the central zone, three new cases in the eastern zone, two new cases in the northern zone and one new case in the western zone.
Of the cases in the province, 51 per cent involve female patients and 49 per cent involve male patients.
Patients with COVID-19 range in age from under 10 to over 90. Seventy per cent of the province’s cases involve patients between the ages of 20 and 64.
The QEII Health Sciences Centre’s microbiology lab completed more than 530 tests in Nova Scotia on Monday and is now operating 24-7.
Though most cases are connected to travel or a known case, the province says community spread has been confirmed.
Public health officials are working to identify and test people who may have come in close contact with the confirmed cases. Those individuals who have been confirmed are being directed to self-isolate at home, away from the public, for 14 days.
Strang said of the 11 that are currently in hospital, four are in the intensive care unit.
Temporary assessment centres in North Preston, Elmsdale
Speaking at Tuesday’s press briefing, Strang said temporary assessment centres have been established in communities where there are concerns about increased COVID-19 activity.
One of those testing centres is being set up in North Preston, where Strang said there are concerns about the patterns of how the disease is being spread.
“Going in with a temporary assessment centre is part of working with the community to help understand those issues,” Strang said, adding that they’re working closely with community leaders as well.
Strang said there are also concerns in East Preston, Cherry Brook and Elmsdale.
‘For the love of God, stay home’
Premier McNeil concluded Tuesday’s briefing with an impassioned plea to the “reckless and selfish few” who still aren’t following public health protocols.
He said even though assessment centres are being established in at-risk communities, there are still people from those areas throwing parties.
“Think about this. As you are planning your weekend, there is a Nova Scotia family planning life without their loved one because of this virus,” McNeil said.
“For the love of God, stay home and stop partying. Please. For the sake of our province.”
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.
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