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We may need to go above and beyond to get restrictions lifted in two weeks

Dr. Lisa Barrett believes it may be optimistic to think those protocols can be lifted within 14 days
Photo: COVID-19 test / Getty Images

If Halifax is going to get its COVID-19 infection rate under control, Haligonians will need to strictly abide by new restrictions, and maybe even go above and beyond what's being required.

That's according to Dr. Lisa Barrett, a Dalhousie University infectious disease specialist.

The province announced 16 new COVID cases in the Central Zone Wednesday. So far in November, 134 cases have been identified, with 102 currently active in the province. Most of the cases are among young adults here in the Halifax-area.

On Tuesday, a number of new measures were announced for the Halifax area aimed at reducing the spread of the virus, including shutting down in-person dining at restaurants and licenced establishments, closing libraries, museums and casinos, mandatory masks mandatory in the common areas of apartment and condo buildings and increased enforcement of illegal gatherings.

They kick in Thursday and will remain in place for at least two weeks.

However, Barrett believes it may be optimistic to think those protocols can be lifted within 14 days.

"Is two weeks enough? I hope so, let's start with two weeks," she told NEWS 95.7's The Rick Howe Show. 

"Take it to heart and do a little more than the premier and Dr. Strang suggested, be a little more restrictive than even that. Please clamp down on the personal socializing at home and maybe 14 days is enough," Barrett added. "But you can hear me not saying, 'Yeah, it will all be fine in 14 days?'"

She said if house parties continue and shoppers descend on malls and big box stores searching for Black Friday deals, we're not going to meet that milestone.

"The virus is in people who are out and about in situations where they're around other people -- whether that's social or not -- without masks, close and talking or doing social things," she explained. "That's where we've mostly seen our cases, whether it's a gym or a restaurant."

Because some people who are infected can be asymptomatic, Barrett believes the number of cases is much higher than what's been reported.

She's joined a team that is running pop-up rapid testing sites throughout the city to specifically target those who don't have symptoms.

On Tuesday, of 604 tested, one person's results were positive. Barrett said that may not sound like a lot, but it proves there's more virus in our community than we know about.

"We haven't done a lot of testing in people without symptoms and that's really where spread often happens, so hopefully over the next week we get a better idea," Barrett said.

Because COVID-19 can have an incubation period of up to 14 days, she said daily case counts will likely continue to climb before we have a chance to see the impact of the tightened restrictions.

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