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Public-sector workers in Nova Scotia who travel abroad must self-isolate for two weeks: Province


March 13, 2020
By Michael MacDonald/The Canadian Press

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Nova Scotia is requiring public sector workers and public school children who travel abroad to isolate themselves for two weeks when they return to Canada, but Premier Stephen McNeil confirmed Friday the province has no immediate plans to close any schools.

“We all need to do our part to reduce the spread (of COVID-19) and keep Nova Scotians healthy and safe,” the Liberal premier told a news conference.

“This virus is impacting our daily lives whether we are infected or not.”

The province has yet to report any presumptive or confirmed cases of COVID-19.

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Schools remain open

Ontario schools have been ordered to remain closed from March 14 through to April 5, and Quebec is closing all schools, junior colleges, universities and daycare centres for two weeks beginning Monday.

Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, said the province “may well move in the near future to be more directive” by closing schools or using provisions of the Health Protection Act to officially limit gatherings by law.

However, Strang said those kinds of restrictions weren’t required at this point, given the fact the province had yet to record any cases of the novel coronavirus. So far 226 people have been tested.

“We fully expect that (infections) will happen,” Strang said.

“We just have to look around the world in the last couple of weeks. There’s been a significant spread in Europe, and now in the United States … and increased activity in some of our provinces.”

McNeil said Nova Scotians who travel abroad should “show the courtesy” of isolating themselves for 14 days when they return.

“We are encouraging the private sector to take the same approach when it comes to their employees who travel outside of Canada,” he said.

No gatherings over 150 people

The province is also recommending that organizations limit social gatherings to no more than 150 people.

“It’s when we get large numbers of people coming together … that’s where the virus can really take hold and spread,” Strang said.

When asked if the recommendation extends to bars and other entertainment venues, the premier said it did.

“I would encourage them to follow the protocol,” he said. “This is about public health. We don’t want to impact your business, we don’t want to impact routines, but the reality is that we have a responsibility to care for one another.”

Large cruise ship ban

Meanwhile, Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau said Friday that no cruise ships carrying more than 500 people will be allowed to dock in Canada until at least July 1.

McNeil said the step is “necessary to minimize the risk of the spread of COVID-19 infection here in Nova Scotia.”

Other measures implemented by the province include doubling the number of phone lines available for the province’s 811 health-information service, which offers a screening protocol for people who suspect they may have contracted the novel coronavirus.

As well, the province will ramp up its online learning resources to ensure students in Grade 12 graduate on time.