Coronavirus Update 1 – March 14, 2020

This update was posted morning of March 14, 2020. The situation is changing by the hour. Please check the CanadaNova Scotia and Halifax websites for the most up to date information, and follow the social media links below.

The information below no longer entirely up to date.  All relevant info from these updates has been compiled into my COVID-19 resources website, with information on current Government ResponseIndividuals & FamiliesBusiness as well as Links to Resources including key social media to follow.


The danger from coronavirus is real. I’ve been hesitant to send out a newsletter full of events and information until we had a better idea where things were headed. Now we do.

Impacts are already being felt as people are ordered to work from home and events are cancelled.

People are scared and worried.

I am very confident in the leadership of our Medical Officer of Health and NSHA. I believe that the province and its partners are working hard to be as prepared for COVID-19 as possible. HRM staff and first responders are ready to support.

When this comes to Nova Scotia we will be ready, but everyone needs to pitch in, help out, be kind to each other, help your neighbours, and follow instructions.

This update was posted morning of March 14, 2020. The situation is changing by the hour. Please check the Nova Scotia and Halifax websites for the most up to date information, and follow the social media links below.

It all comes down to this – we need to “flatten the curve”:
Flatten the Curve
As I retweeted a couple days ago in order to “flatten the curve”, measures have to be taken before the virus hits us.

To be effective, it will look like we are overreacting. We have to be prepared to look like we are overreacting.

The goal is to slow the spread of the virus, to try and better match health care system capacity to the number of urgent cases. Everyone will need to do their part.

Right now the most important things are: 

  • DO wash your hands with soap and warm water
  • DO call 811 to get a referral if you meet criteria (link below)
  • DO NOT go to your Doctor or the Emergency Room if you think you may have COVID-19
  • DO NOT call 811 unless you meet the criteria below
  • DO NOT go to work or send your kids to school or daycare for 14 days if you have returned from international travel (including the US)

What to do if you think you have COVID-19 

You may need to go to a COVID-19 assessment centre. If you need in-person assessment, 811 will refer you to a centre. Don’t go to a COVID-19 assessment centre unless 811 referred you. You may have to wait 12 hours or more to get a call back with an appointment.

People are calling 811 with questions and concerns and overwhelming the phone centre. DO NOT CALL 811 unless you have develop a fever, with a temperature 38°C or higher, or a cough.

UPDATE – NS Gov have been notified that some people have not been able to call 811 because of their internet phone providers. If you have been experiencing issues calling 811, please call the toll-free number 1-866-770-7763 to be redirected to 811.

To help you better understand if you need to talk to 811, please review this simple questionnaire. DO NOT CALL 811 UNLESS YOU MEET THIS CRITERIA.

Protecting yourself from coronavirus

The Nova Scotia government coronavirus website has information which boils down to reducing contact with other people, wash or sanitize hands often, use cough and sneeze etiquette, and clean high-touch surfaces and objects often.

Be prepared to stay home more than normal, and have a 72 hour kit ready (as Nova Scotians living in a hurricane zone we should all always have a 72 hour kit ready!)

Cleaning your hands

Image shows how 20-30 seconds of handwashing with soap removes most germs.

Why washing your hands is important

Washing with soap and water is preferred – rubbing hands together removes visible dirt and germs (as you can see above). Use disposable paper towels (preferred) for drying hands, or a reusable towel that is laundered often. Hand sanitizer is not as effective as soap and water. Find a song that you know the lyrics for and sing it for 20-30 seconds (Prince’s Raspberry Beret is mine)

The provincial handwashing poster can be downloaded here

Advice for employers and community groups

The province also advises employers to support your employees if they need to stay home, talk with your employees about flexible hours or alternative work arrangements, consider limiting events. Businesses need to have a business continuity plan in place.

Practice Information hygiene

There are many websites have all the information people may require to prepare for the coming weeks and months (listed below). It is important you get your information from official channels.

There are a lot of folks sharing incorrect and scary information. It not helpful, it is potentially dangerous.

Just like washing your hands well and a lot, it is more important than ever to practice good information hygiene. Follow official sources and reliable news outlets. Resist the impulse to share stories or news from other sources. Don’t believe it, and don’t spread it.

It undermines public health officials and it undercuts their messaging and could put lives at risk.

Coronavirus Resources:

Websites

For information on coronavirus and how Nova Scotia is responding
https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/

For information on what Halifax is doing to support the respoce:
https://halifax.ca/coronavirus

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Being prepared
https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/being-prepared.html

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Travel advice
https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/latest-travel-health-advice.html

Social Media

Facebook:
Healthy Canadians
Travel Advice from the Government of Canada
Halifax

Twitter:
NS Health @nshealth
Halifax @hfxgov
Government of Canada Travel advice @TravelGoC
Government of Canada Health @GovCanHealth
Canada Public Health @CPHO_Canada

LinkedIn:
Public Health Agency of Canada