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Five more people in Nova Scotia have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total to 127. Four people are now in hospital, but 10 have fully recovered.

I’ve updated the daily charts tracking the progress of the disease and the response to it, here.

The province’s chief medical officer, Dr. Robert Strang, said that there is now at least one case of  “community spread.” That’s a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 and who had attended the St. Patrick’s Day party in Lake Echo.

Strang said none of the other attendees at the party has expressed symptoms, and the 14-day period has expired, so Public Health cannot connect the one positive case back to anyone at the party. That person has also not travelled, and was not in close contact with anyone who had travelled. Likewise, none of the other party attendees had travelled. So it’s all a mystery how that person contracted COVID-19, and therefore it’s considered the first case of community spread.

Larger spread at Magnolia

Magnolia Continuing Care in Enfield. Photo: Facebook

Yesterday, Strang said an employee at the Magnolia Continuing Care residential care home in Enfield had tested positive for COVID-19. Today, he said a total of four people associated with the home have tested positive — two residents and two employees.

“Public Health is working actively with that facility, with the administrators,” said Strang. “It is a complex interaction between staff and residents in that facility. We need to work carefully to understand who may have been exposed. We are deploying — EHS now has a mobile testing capacity — we are deploying that to this facility so every resident and every staff member in that facility can be tested. We’ll making it a priority for those tests to be run in the lab. Any residents who test positive, including the two that we know of, are being isolated in the facility, and staff members who test positive will be off in self-isolation for 14 days.

“This situation is creating significant staffing issues [at the home],” Strang continued. “And we’re supporting that facility to make sure that the residents get the necessary care that they need.”

Rob Bitar’s

Additionally, today the Nova Scotia Heath Authority issued the following release:

NSHA Public Health is advising of a potential public exposure to COVID-19 on March 23 and 24 at Rob Bitar’s Ristorante, 689 Highway 2, Elmsdale.

Public Health has been directly contacting anyone known to be a contact of the case involved. While most people have been contacted, there could be some restaurant patrons that Public Health is not aware of.

It is anticipated anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named dates may develop symptoms up to, and including, April 6, 2020.

Like all restaurants since March 18, Rob Bitar’s has been serving only to-go food.

Strang narrowed down the potential exposure at the restaurant to March 23 and 24.

“Unfortunately,” said Strang, “people are targeting that restaurant. We have to understand this is not about the restaurant or the business. It just happens to be a place where possible transmission could have occurred. So when we do those public announcements, please do not use those as a way to target any business or an establishment or an individual. It’s simply a way — sometimes Public Health has to reach out publicly to notify the public about a place where they may have been exposed. But that does not give you a reason to target any group or any individual or any business.”

Strang did not say how Rob Bitar’s was “targeted.”

The restaurant posted on Facebook:

It has been brought to our attention by the Nova Scotia Public Health Authority that one of our part time employees has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. This staff member has been isolated and is recovering in their home at this time. We are working closely with the Nova Scotia Health Authority with regards to appropriate measures which include self-isolation of all co-workers.

We assure you Bitar’s has and always will take the health and safety of its guests very seriously and as such we are taking all necessary measures to ensure we are handling this matter with extreme diligence and care. We know that this is a time of uncertainty and therefore feel it’s important to note that the affected employee was ???????????? showing any symptoms during his two worked shifts in question.

We are striving to meet and exceed the stringent guidelines set by the province to ensure that our facility will be ready to serve our community as it has done for 22 years. Thank your your continued support, we are all in this together.

I’ll have more about the rent deferral program and a positive COVID-19 case at the East Coast Forensic Hospital for Morning File tomorrow.

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Tim Bousquet is the editor and publisher of the Halifax Examiner. Twitter @Tim_Bousquet Mastodon

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