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Nova Scotia changes COVID-19 screening process; no new cases reported

A computer image created by Nexu Science Communication together with Trinity College in Dublin, shows a model of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
A computer-generated model of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. - File

Nova Scotia is changing the testing process for COVID-19 after complaints about delays getting through to the 811 phone line.

A new self-assessment website (https://covid-self-assessment.novascotia.ca/) will replace the previous 811 online screening and phone line tool. 

"This will reduce the wait time to be screened for testing from 12 hours to about 10 minutes," the Health Department said in a news release.

"If the online assessment determines that a person requires a test, the Nova Scotia Health Authority or the IWK Health Centre will call them within 24 to 48 hours to book an appointment."

People who can't access the new online tool or who wish to speak to a nurse about their symptoms can still call 811. 

The phone line has received an average of 1,467 calls per day and served an average of 1,024 patients per day since the beginning of September

"It is reasonable to expect a resurgence of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia and the improvements we're making in our testing process will help us be prepared for it," said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health, in the release.

"We can minimize any resurgence by continuing to follow all the public health measures to keep COVID-19 out of our communities as much as possible."

Premier Stephen McNeil said the move was related to school resuming and other parts of Canada seeing a second wave of COVID-19.

"We are increasing our capacity to test people with symptoms more quickly to make sure we detect and manage cases," he said. "Our first step is a new online COVID-19 self-assessment tool, which will dramatically reduce the wait time for screening."

A Health Department spokeswoman said the moves aren't expected to make things busier for staff at the IWK and the NSHA. 

"811 has been sending contact information to NSHA and IWK to book appointments," Marla MacInnis said in an email. "Our online self-assessment will do the same, so we don’t anticipate an increase to the volume of work due to this change.

"That said, more resources are being added to the booking teams for the primary assessment centres to ensure appointments are booked in a timely fashion. Once you complete the self-assessment, they aim to call you within 24 to 48 hours."

No new cases found in latest tests

Meanwhile Nova Scotia reported no new COVID-19 cases on Thursday. 

There were 977 Nova Scotia lab tests conducted Wednesday and all turned out negative, the Health Department said.

There are two active cases in the province, including one person still in ICU and the northern zone case reported yesterday. Both are related to out-of-country travel.

To date, Nova Scotia has 95,244 negative test results, 1,088 positive COVID-19 cases, 1,021 resolved cases and 65 deaths.  

If you have a new or worsening cough or fever (i.e. chills/sweats) you should take a self-assessment test at 811.novascotia.ca. That test will determine if you should call 811 for further assessment.

Also take the test of you have had two or more of the following symptoms in the last 48 hours:

  • sore throat
  •  runny nose/ nasal congestion
  • headache
  •  shortness of breath

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