But that’s no longer the case. With cases spiking – including a staggering 1,231 new cases reported in just one week (April 30-May 7) – Nova Scotia is seeing the highest number of new cases since the start of the pandemic.
“We have a lot of virus out there and we’re in a critical situation,” said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s Chief Medical Officer of Health. “Public Health is overwhelmed by the volume of cases. We need to bring down the number of cases so we can get the outbreak under control.”
It’s even more important now that there are variant strains [of COVID-19] in our communities. Variant cases of COVID-19 spread faster from person to person with less contact. “The time between somebody becoming infected and spreading the virus to another person is shorter,” said Dr. Strang.
Most new cases have been reported in Halifax – pointing to community spread. But with more cases being reported in every region of the province, strict measures are needed to stop the virus from spreading further.
To get a handle on the situation, we’re now in a province-wide lockdown for at least two weeks. There are also tighter restrictions on people entering the border. All Nova Scotians are asked to stay within their local community, unless it’s for essential reasons, such as for work, child care, legal reasons or medical appointments (this includes getting tested for COVID-19 or getting your vaccine).
But otherwise, stick to your local community: work from home if you can, get your food and essential supplies from local stores and exercise at parks and trails in your local area. Don’t shop for non-essential items. Try to have only one person from your household heading out for groceries. Whenever possible, opt to order essentials online with contactless delivery. Know a single parent family on your street? Text or call them and see if they need help getting supplies.
Only socialize with people who are in your immediate household bubble. (Note: The gathering limit for the entire province is now five people.) Don’t socialize with people who are supposed to be self-isolating. It’s not worth risking your health, your family’s health and the health of everyone in your community. Stay in touch via texts, phone calls or FaceTime, and offer to drop off groceries or items they need to get through the two weeks.
All public schools in the province are closed to in-person learning until at least the end of May. In-restaurant dining, personal care services, gyms and most retailers are now closed across the province. Cultural and sporting events, festivals and gatherings aren’t allowed. Read more about the restrictions.
There are also new rules about wearing masks. Masks are now required in outdoor spaces where it’s hard to keep distance from others, such as parks and playgrounds. In day cares, all staff, visitors and children over age two are required to wear masks. People working inside offices and warehouses must wear masks.
Getting tested regularly for COVID-19 is key to stopping the virus in its tracks. But due to high demand for tests for people who have symptoms or have been exposed to COVID-19, you should only book a test at a primary assessment centre if you have symptoms or have been exposed to the virus or been in contact with a positive case. You can also book a test if you must be tested 72 hours before surgery. If that’s not your situation, opt for a rapid test at pop-up clinic instead (see below).
If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or awaiting test results after being exposed to COVID-19, assume you are positive and self-isolate while you wait for your results. If you live with others, all of the members of your household must also self-isolate and stay away from people outside of your household.
If you must get tested, book a test online (walk-ins aren’t available) or call 811. Public Health also has mobile testing units in some communities that you can book for testing. See if one is in your area.
Opt for a rapid test at a pop-up clinic if you don’t have symptoms and haven’t been exposed to COVID-19 or been in contact with a positive case. There are rapid testing sites in Halifax, Dartmouth and Cape Breton. See if one is in your area. You don’t need to book an appointment – just show up. You’ll receive the test results quickly via text message. But remember: if you’ve been exposed to the virus or have symptoms, you must book a COVID-19 test at a primary assessment centre or Public Health mobile testing unit in your community. Learn more about COVID-19 testing.
Finally, don’t delay getting vaccinated against COVID-19! As soon as your age group is called, make an appointment and get it done. Being vaccinated keeps you from getting extremely ill from COVID-19 and needing hospital care. The sooner Nova Scotians are vaccinated, the sooner we’ll achieve “population immunity” – and that will protect everyone from the disease.
Note: rebook your vaccination (and get tested instead) if you feel unwell, have been at a COVID-19 exposure site or have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. You can rebook online or call 1-833-797-7772.
We’ve done it before, so let’s do it again! It’s time to stay home, stay safe and support one another. If we all do our part to follow the restrictions, we’ll be back down to zero new daily cases soon.
Reminder: If you think you might have COVID-19, immediately self-isolate and book a test online or call 811. Don’t visit your doctor’s office, a walk-in clinic or the emergency department.
Nova Scotia quick links
Getting vaccinated against COVID-19
List of COVID-19 exposures in Nova Scotia
Getting tested for COVID-19
Public Health mobile testing unit locations
Rapid testing locations
Mental health and well-being
Nova Scotia COVID-19 resources
Download the free COVID Alert app