UPDATE: The Nova Scotia Public Health Authority is now advising of a potential public exposure to COVID-19 at a public event related to St. Patrick’s Day.
Nova Scotia now has a total of 73 confirmed cases of COVID-19 after 5 new positives were announced Thursday.
And at this point, public health officials have not been able to track down the source of exposure of one of them.
The Department of Health and Wellness says it's too early to confirm if the case is linked to community spread, however at a news conference Thursday, the province's chief medical officer of health said it's possible a St. Patrick's Day party played a role.
"We're aware there was an event, I don't know the exact number, but in the range of about 50 people at a social gathering on St. Patrick's Day and it's likely this is where our case was exposed to COVID-19," Dr. Robert Strang told reporters.
He said health officials have not yet been able to definitively make the link and they're still investigating.
Premier Stephen McNeil called this potential case of community spread "a wake up call."
"Everyone needs to avoid social gatherings," he said. Gatherings of more than 5 people are currently banned in the province.
He added everyone in the health care system, from doctors and nurses to cleaning staff, are focused on containing the spread of COVID-19.
"None of this matters, it's all for not if you don't do your part by self-isolating," McNeil pleaded. "COVID-19 was passed on at a social gathering and now we have to find out how far it has gone."
As the weekend approaches, McNeil is urging Nova Scotians to consider the potential impact their actions could have on loved ones and neighbours.
To date, Nova Scotia has 3,201 negative test results and 73 confirmed cases.
The individuals affected range in age from under 10 to the mid-70s. Two people are currently in hospital and two more have recovered.
Anyone who is defined as a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 will also be tested.
If you have travelled outside of Nova Scotia or been in close contact with someone who has travelled and you're experiencing fever or new cough, complete the online self-assessment on 811.novascotia.ca
Below is information and resources from the Department of Health and Wellness:
Nova Scotians can find accurate, up-to-date information, handwashing posters and fact sheets at https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus .
-- testing numbers are updated daily at https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus
-- Nova Scotia's Health Protection Act gives the chief medical officer of health the authority to give advice to protect public health and decrease risk to public health presented by communicable diseases such as COVID-19
-- a state of emergency was declared under the Emergency Management Act on March 22 and remains in effect until noon, April 5
-- under the state of emergency government can control or prohibit assembly as well as travel to and from areas. It can also coordinate commerce activity and emergency responders
-- a new virus like COVID-19 can cause fear. Nova Scotians are encouraged to support each other and use technology to stay connected
Government of Canada: https://canada.ca/coronavirus
Government of Canada toll-free information line 1-833-784-4397
The Mental Health Provincial Crisis Line is available 24/7 to anyone experiencing a mental health or addictions crisis, or someone concerned about them, by calling 1-888-429-8167 (toll free).
Kids Help Phone is available 24/7, by calling 1-800-668-6868 (toll-free).