PORT HAWKESBURY: The province is sending in a mobile testing unit after a positive COVID-19 case was connected to SAERC, and potential exposure advisories were issued for local businesses.

On April 27, the province announced that the Strait Area Education Recreation Centre (SAERC) in Port Hawkesbury is the latest school in Nova Scotia that has been linked with a recent positive test for the novel coronavirus.

While SAERC moved to at-home learning, along with all public and private schools across Nova Scotia, the province said it will undergo a deep cleaning.

The province said public health will be in touch with any close contacts of positive cases and advise of next steps, including testing. Everyone who is a close contact will be notified, tested and asked to self-isolate for 14 days, they said.

“Our routine is always that if we have a case, we first of all, work to identify who the close contacts of that case were, and if we can identify those close contacts directly, then we don’t need to do a public notification,” Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s Chief Medical Officer of Health said. “In Port Hawkesbury, and any other areas outside of Halifax, if there is the need to do a public notification even with a low risk exposure, we’ll put that information out.”

Public health is recommending that all students and staff be tested, but no self-isolation is required, unless people have been identified as a close contact by public health or have symptoms.

“If people have been identified as a contact, they need to isolate at home, which means that they have to be separated from the rest of the household, in individual bedrooms, there can be a shared bathroom but with cleaning protocols… meals at the door, those kind of things,” Dr. Strang told The Reporter. “If that’s not possible, then public health will be aware of these people who are close contact. We have support; housing and income support, if necessary, for families, to allow people to quarantine as appropriate.”

Information about all COVID-19 cases connected to public schools can be found at: https://www.ednet.ns.ca/backtoschool/case-info.

The Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) also issued potential COVID-19 exposure advisories on April 27.

This applies to anyone who was at Miller’s Restaurant in the Maritime Inn in Port Hawkesbury on April 21 between 4-7 p.m. and April 22 between 4-6:30 p.m. The NSHA said it is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the that date may develop symptoms up to, and including, May 6.

“We’ve just been notified that we had a couple of potential COVID exposure windows at our restaurant last week, and wanted to get the word out as quickly as possible,” Miller’s Restaurant posted on its Facebook page March 27. “Our staff are making appointments to be tested and won’t return to work until they have their negative test results back. We’ll also take this opportunity to do a deep clean of the restaurant before reopening for take-out service.”

The NSHA advisory also includes anyone who was at The Carriage House in Port Hawkesbury on April 22 between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. Anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, May 6, the NSHA noted.

“We are calling all the people on our contact tracing list to inform them of the potential exposure. Our staff are making appointments to be tested and won’t return to work until they have their negative test results back. We also will be closed for a two week period and we’ll also take this opportunity to do a deep clean of the business before reopening,” The Carriage House posted on its Facebook page on March 27.

The adjacent China King Restaurant also made a post on its Facebook page the same day.

“Due to the exposure at The Carriage House, my family and I have decided to close the restaurant as a precaution. Public health has not contacted us with (any) concerns but we feel we should close to protect our family, staff and patrons. We will all get tested and deep clean the restaurant and once all this has been done we will reopen for takeout.”

Regardless of whether or not there are COVID-19 symptoms, the NSHA said those at those locations on those dates and times are required to self-isolate while waiting for their test result. Those who get a negative result, do not need to keep self-isolating and those who get a positive result will be contacted by public health about what to do next, the NSHA added.

The Public Health Mobile Unit will be at the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre this week, with appointments available at: https://www.nshealth.ca/coronavirustesting?fbclid=IwAR2emGrxJlEiDBKTnzNcKHK3NrURdf-pK6UZJJOD2UESGhpgL3axTsr_ogA.

The Town of Port Hawkesbury also issued a press release on April 27 announcing that the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre will be closed for two weeks. The town said this closure includes town offices, Body ‘N Soul Fitness Centre, the Eastern District Planning Commission office, Strait Area Transit, the walking track, and the arena.

The town said it continues to follow all provincial COVID-19 directives, and further updates will follow in the coming days.