St. Patrick’s Day party could be linked to new Nova Scotia COVID-19 case

A St. Patrick’s Day party with about 50 people may have been where someone contracted the new novel coronavirus, according to Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health.

The province announced five new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, with one not linked to travel or an earlier case. There are now 73 cases in total.

Speaking at a press briefing, Dr. Robert Strang said the unknown case illustrates why it’s so important to adhere to social distancing and self-isolation measures.

“They’re so important, because how this virus spreads is when people get together in close contact,” Strang says. “If we keep apart from each other, especially in significant numbers, that such an important thing.”

Shortly after Thursday’s press briefing, the Nova Scotia Health Authority issued an advisory of a potential public exposure to COVID-19 on March 14 at Lake Echo Community Centre.

“The gathering was a public event related to St. Patrick’s Day with approximately 50 people in attendance,” the advisory reads. “Public Health has been directly contacting attendees to advise on self-isolation protocols and next steps.”

“While most people have been contacted, there could be some attendees Public Health is not aware of or contact information may have changed for individuals.”

The health authority says it is anticipated anyone exposed to the virus may develop symptoms up to, and including on March 28.

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Strang said it’s “likely” the individual was exposed to COVID-19 at the St. Patrick’s Day party, but that’s yet to be confirmed. An investigation is underway to determine the source of the exposure.

“At this point, public health cannot confirm that this case is linked to community spread,” Strang said.

Strang says public health officials are in the process of trying to determine who may have been in contact with the individual.

“It’s very much like detective work. A public health nurse talks to people, we say where were you, what were you doing, who were you in contact with?” Straing says. “Then we approach it by layers. We reach out and talk to those contacts.

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