Nova Scotia becomes the last province to ID a coronavirus case

HALIFAX—Nova Scotia has identified its first three presumptive cases of COVID-19 — the last province in the country to do so — on a weekend that saw all four Atlantic Provinces make similar coronavirus diagnosis announcements.

At a news conference Sunday, the province’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Robert Strang said the three cases were all travel-related and unconnected to each other.

At the same time, Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil introduced a sweeping set of measures aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus.

One of the victims, a woman in her 60s had returned from Australia on March 8. The second, a man in his 50s, had attended a conference in California before returning. The third, a man in his 30s, had been travelling through Europe.

All three results will need to be confirmed by the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg. They are the first of the province’s 418 tests to come back a presumptive positive.

McNeil announced a series of further restrictions designed to hamper the transmission of the virus. immediately, anyone who has travelled outside of Canada must self-isolate immediately, even if asymptomatic. Beginning Monday, the province will have health inspectors at airports meeting flights in Halifax and Sydney.

As well, long-term care facilities in Nova Scotia will be closed to all visitors effective immediately. McNeil also said schools would be closed for two weeks following March break, pending reassessment at the beginning of April.

Daycare centres are to be closed beginning Tuesday, and also reassessed at the beginning of April.

Restaurants, bars, movie theatres and other public gathering spots are to keep numbers below 150, and distance patrons by about two metres.

“We all have to do our part to reduce the spread and keep Nova Scotians healthy and safe. Take care of one another. Be kind to one another, and ensure that we support those in our province who require our support,” said McNeil.

On Saturday, Prince Edward Island announced its first confirmed case of COVID-19. The province’s chief public health officer Dr. Heather Morrison identified the case as a woman in her 50s who had recently returned from a cruise.

Later Saturday, Newfoundland and Labrador announced its first presumptive case of the disease, also a woman recently back from a cruise. In both cases, the victims were in self-isolation.

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New Brunswick also announced a second presumptive case on Saturday. That case involved a man, between 50 and 60, who was in close contact with the province’s first confirmed case, a woman who had travelled to France. The man had not travelled himself.

On Sunday, Ontario also reported 39 new coronavirus cases, bringing the province’s total number of cases to 142.

The four Atlantic Provinces have all responded to the impending coronavirus cases by closing schools, shutting down government offices and cancelling sporting events and most public activities that attract large crowds.

TORONTO STAR