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What you need to know about COVID-19

COVID-19 has changed the way we live. After enduring the first wave of the pandemic, we’ve learned how to protect ourselves and others from being infected.

We know wearing non-medical masks saves lives. We know how important it is to stay home when we aren’t feeling well. We know we need to keep our distance from family members who are more vulnerable to COVID-19. We know how to wash our hands really, really well. And we know how important it is to get the annual flu shot to avoid a potential “twin-demic.”

Even though we’ve adapted to our new reality, our vigilance has been slipping. Nova Scotians have been feeling safe in the Atlantic bubble and we’ve not been as disciplined during the summer and autumn months. And now, a new season is upon us and cases are on the rise again.

Let’s break down what we know and what you can do.

What we know:

What you can do:

Stay home, if you can
Staying home and away from others is one of the easiest ways to keep ourselves and others safe. Dr. Strang says, “go to work or go to school, then go home and stay there. One family member can shop for necessities.” With the holiday season approaching, try shopping your favourite local retailers online.

Wash your hands, cover your coughs
It sounds simple, but good hygiene is the best defence against respiratory viruses, like COVID-19, which affect our lungs.

Get into the habit of doing a good and thorough hand wash. It will protect you from getting the flu and COVID-19. Check out this video that demonstrates how to wash your hands the right way. If you need to cough, cough into a tissue and throw it away immediately. Don’t forget to wash your hands afterwards. If you don’t have a tissue, cough into your elbow or sleeve.

Wear a non-medical mask
Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief medical officer of health, has updated the recommendations on masks and is advising that we wear three-layer masks, with the ability to insert a filter. A mask or face covering can be homemade or purchased and should be made of at least three layers; two layers should be tightly woven material fabric, such as cotton or linen, and a third (middle) layer should be a filter-type fabric, such as non-woven polypropylene fabric. Learn more

Stay away from people most at risk
Do your part to help keep others healthy. If you feel unwell, stay home and don’t visit loved ones or community members in their homes or other settings. Restrictions are in place for visitors to long-term care homes and hospitals in the province.

Don’t gather in groups
Nova Scotians are advised to practise social distancing of two metres (six feet) and keep gatherings below 10 in most of Nova Scotia and below five in HRM and Hants County. Avoid close face-to-face contact with others. Work from home, if you can! Stay up to date on the latest provincial guidelines on social gatherings here.

Download the free COVID Alert app
Get notified if you’ve been around someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. Learn more here.

Get your annual flu shot
This year, it’s more important than ever to get your flu shot. The bottom line is, if you don’t get the flu shot and there’s an uptick in influenza, as well as a second wave of COVID-19, our medical system will be overwhelmed.

What to do if you think you have COVID-19

If you’ve travelled out of the Atlantic Bubble (or have been in contact with someone who’s travelled) and develop a temperature of 38°C or higher, or you’ve been exposed to someone with COVID-19, call 811. Not sure? Check out the 811 online assessment tool before calling.

The ability to book a COVID-19 test online is now available province-wide. If you feel unwell, complete the online assessment and if you require a test, you can book that online here.

Don’t visit your doctor’s office, a walk-in clinic or the emergency department. When you call 811, they will tell you what to do next, such as to visit a health assessment centre or how to access emergency care. Don’t go to an assessment centre unless 811 tells you to.

Travel precautions from public health

The federal government advises against non-essential travel.

If you’ve travelled outside of Atlantic Canada, you are required to self-isolate for 14 days upon your return to Nova Scotia. Those in your household are also required to isolate for 14 days. This means no visitors, no shopping, no outside work, no school.

If you start to feel unwell, stay at home and self-isolate away from other people. If you are told to self-isolate, you can get supporting health information by contacting your local public health office.

Why it’s important

We all can play a role in protecting Nova Scotians who are most at risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19. Together we can slow the spread of the illness, so that health services are available for people who are most in need. While in most cases, the symptoms of COVID-19 are mild to moderate, in some cases the infection can lead to death.

Let’s recap

The WHO has called the outbreak a pandemic, as cases of the respiratory infection continue to spread around the world. While there is no need for panic, you should be concerned for yourself, your loved ones and your community members. If you’ve travelled outside of Atlantic Canada, you must self-isolate for 14 days upon returning to Nova Scotia (along with anyone else you are staying with). Practise good hygiene, like washing your hands and coughing into your elbow, wear a three-layer non-medical mask and don’t gather in big groups. Get the annual flu shot. Work from home if you can. If you have a temperature of 38°C or higher and think you might have COVID-19, call 811. Not sure? Check out the 811 online assessment tool before calling.

It’s OK to be concerned but there is no need to panic. For the latest updates on COVID-19, visit Nova Scotia’s coronavirus information hub.

*This blog was originally published March 12, 2020 and has been updated on Nov 26, 2020.

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