Dr. Strang to undergo ‘minor’ skin cancer surgery in New Brunswick this week

Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health, arrives to deliver an update on health system preparations in Nova Scotia for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, in Halifax on Friday, March 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer has revealed that while grappling with a public health care crisis, he has also been grappling with a challenge to his personal health: skin cancer.

During his briefing with Premier Stephen McNeil on Wednesday, Dr. Robert Strang confirmed he has a “minor type” of skin cancer, for which he will undergo an operation in New Brunswick later this week.

“I need a relatively minor surgical procedure, I have a minor type of skin cancer which is diagnosed and only spreads locally,” said Strang.

“It’s been removed but I need another type of surgery that just can re-look at things and make sure the margins of where it was removed are clear.”

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Dr. Strang did not take any questions on his diagnosis, but said the kind of surgery he requires is not yet available in Nova Scotia. He will travel to New Brunswick on Thursday and self-isolate for two weeks upon his return.

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“I’m no different than anybody else, I have to follow the rules of 14 days of isolation,” he said. “…Doesn’t mean I’m not going to be working, I’ll be working from home.”

During his 14-day quarantine, McNeil said there will be no tri-weekly press briefings, although he and the doctor will be in regular touch, continuing work on Nova Scotia’s re-opening.

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The duo, which have become a regular feature of many Nova Scotians’ social media feeds, said they will continue to issue daily news releases that include COVID-19 case numbers, and update the provincial government’s website as necessary.

“If there is a spike or sign of trouble we will be back here with the use and help of technology,” said McNeil. “Obviously we hope that doesn’t happen. We seem to be moving in the right direction and we can’t stop now.”

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Strang touted his two-week quarantine as “opportunity to focus on the epidemiology,” along with planning for the summer and fall.


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