New national novel coronavirus screening protocols in place

Online First

New national screening protocols to respond to novel coronavirus have been established.

Travellers coming to Canada from Hubei province, China, continue to be at an increased risk for novel coronavirus infection. Travellers are being warned: If you have travelled to Hubei province in the last 14 days, limit your contact with others (self-isolation, stay at home) for 14 days from your last day there.

Steps you should take include:

— avoiding close contact with individuals with chronic conditions, compromised immune systems and senior citizens

— avoiding having visitors to your home

— avoiding situations such as social gatherings, work, school, daycare, visiting other people who are in a health-care facility or senior’s residence

— limiting taking public transit, taxis and ride sharing

— washing your hands often with soap and warm water frequently for at least 20 seconds; use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available

— covering your mouth and nose with your arm when coughing or sneezing

People in Nova Scotia who self-isolate can receive supporting health information from Nova Scotia Health Authority public health by contacting the nearest office. Contact information for public health offices can be found at http://www.nshealth.ca/public-health-offices .

People who have travelled from any other part of China in the last 14 days are asked to closely monitor their health for 14 days from their last day in China.

Anyone with either of the travel histories noted above who develop a fever, cough or difficulty breathing should call 811 to arrange an assessment and testing for novel coronavirus at their closest emergency department.

Screening is now in place at 10 Canadian airports, including Halifax Stanfield International. People who have been in Hubei province in the last 14 days will be asked questions about their health by Canada Border Services Agency personnel and provided information about symptoms and self-isolation, if applicable.

To date, there have been no cases of coronavirus in Nova Scotia. The small number of cases in Canada are directly connected to Hubei province or someone in the same household.

“The risk of novel coronavirus to Nova Scotians remains low. The best advice continues to be to follow proper hygiene practices, which help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses like the flu and coronavirus,” said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health. “I recognize this situation is creating uncertainty and even fear for some people. These measures are being put in place because we have a better understanding of this virus and its impact in China.”

“This is an evolving situation and Canada’s response will evolve with it. We have well-established provincial response plans in place should a case be confirmed in Nova Scotia.”

Nova Scotia public health officials are working closely with their colleagues across Canada to make sure cases of coronavirus are quickly identified and managed.