Nova Scotia now has 68 confirmed cases of COVID-19 after 17 new positives were announced on Wednesday.
At a news conference March 25, Dr. Robert Strang said this increase was anticipated as Nova Scotians return from March Break and snowbirds come back from their winter getaways.
"All the cases so far, they have had a history of travel outside of Nova Scotia with the vast majority outside of the country, or they have been exposed to someone who has travelled, generally in a household setting," Strang explained.
"If we start to identify through our followup of cases where we can't make that link, that is the indication of community spread."
Strang said the lack of community spread so far in the province is an indication that people are adhering to their 14-day self-isolations.
He explained because the virus generally has a two week incubation period, he expects a lot of new cases this week.
"Once we get beyond that 14 days ... if we're controlling the spread, what we're hoping to see is a tail off of that and the increase be minimal or plateauing," he added. "All that will depend on how effective we are in applying all the measures we've been talking about."
On Sunday, the province declared a state of emergency, requiring a 14-day isolation for anyone entering the province, shutting down provincial parks, beaches and tourist attractions, and banning gatherings of more than 5 people. Those who violate the rules face fines of $1,000 for individuals and $7,500 for businesses.
Strang said, in terms of the number of cases, Nova Scotia is tracking two to three weeks behind some larger provinces like British Columbia, Ontario and Alberta.
"The things were putting in place, it's at a time when it can make even more of a difference by minimizing community spread," he said.
He stressed the need to continue practising social distancing and good hygiene.
"Stay at home as much as you can, avoid close contact with others and have one person go shopping for essential needs," he urged.
"If you're just social distancing ... by all means, go out for a walk, go for a bike ride but respect that social distancing and don't get together in groups of more than 5."
The rules for self-isolators are more stringent, but they can go out into a backyard or on a balcony.
He recognized not all Nova Scotians have that luxury, but said it's vital to stick to your home.
"People who are in multi-unit dwellings, I recognize how much of a challenge that is, but we ask you to be creative, and we ask your neighbours to support you and not be criticizing each other," Strang said. "Find out how we can help people who need to self-isolate."
"By caring for each other, building a sense of community and using some common sense, we can all make a huge difference here."
To date, Nova Scotia has 2,772 negative test results and 68 confirmed cases.
The positives range in age from under ten to mid-70s.
Two people have recovered and their cases of COVID-19 are considered resolved. One person remains in hospital.
Below is information and resources from the Department of Health and Wellness:
Anyone who has travelled outside of Nova Scotia must self-isolate for 14 days. If you have travelled outside of Nova Scotia or been in close contact with someone who has travelled and are experiencing fever or new cough you should complete the online questionnaire before calling 811. The online questionnaire can be found at: https://811.novascotia.ca/
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).