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Coronavirus-related staff shortages force Nova Scotia to postpone elective surgeries

Click to play video 'Nova Scotia preparing to deliver COVID-19 vaccine when available' Nova Scotia preparing to deliver COVID-19 vaccine when available
WATCH: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a plan is to have the majority of Canadians vaccinated for COVID-19 by the end of 2021. Provinces are doing everything they can to prepare so when vaccines are ready, there will be no delays in delivering them. Jesse Thomas reports – Nov 27, 2020

Elective surgeries for approximately 20 patients across Nova Scotia have been postponed as a result of medical staff self-isolating from potential COVID-19 exposures, medical officials have confirmed to Global News.

Nova Scotia Health says that the 20 patients, who were scheduled for elective surgeries on Thursday or Friday, had their procedures postponed.

Read more: Less than 5 health workers have tested positive for COVID-19 in N.S.

Brendan Elliott, a spokesperson for Nova Scotia Health, said “a number of staff and physicians” have been identified as close contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases or were at potential exposure locations in the province.

Those health-care workers have been directed to self-isolate for 14 days even if they received a negative COVID-19 test.

“It is expected that additional surgeries will be impacted next week and patients will be contacted directly if their surgery is unable to proceed,” Elliott told Global News in an email.

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“We regret this situation and will work to notify and reschedule patients as quickly as possible.”

Nova Scotia Health believes that the measures being taken by staff are necessary to protect their patients and stop the spread of COVID-19.

Click to play video 'Front-line workers prepare for stress of second wave of COVID-19' Front-line workers prepare for stress of second wave of COVID-19
Front-line workers prepare for stress of second wave of COVID-19 – Nov 27, 2020

Increased vigilance in Halifax

Nova Scotia reported nine new coronavirus cases on Friday, amid what the province’s chief medical officer of health has called the second wave of the virus.

New restrictive measures on the province’s central health zone — which includes Halifax — came into effect this week with the goal of batting down the spread of the coronavirus.

The province has issued dozens of potential exposure warnings over the past week as they continue to contact trace those who’ve tested positive.

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Read more: Nova Scotia reports 9 new coronavirus cases, 1 linked to Bedford South School

Elliott said Nova Scotia Health is working hard to adjust their operating room schedules and to reassign surgery teams so that as few surgeries as possible are disrupted.

“Access to emergency and urgent surgeries has not been affected and we are continuing to monitor this situation, and its impact on staffing, very closely,” he said.

Global News has previously reported that less than five health-workers have tested positive for COVID-19 over the past several weeks.

Nova Scotia Health will not disclose the locations where those healthcare workers are located as a result of privacy concerns.

“Due to the small number, and the need to protect personal health information, we are unable to report the number as it is less than five provincially,” said Elliott on Thursday.

— With files from Global News’ Rhonda Brown