ANTIGONISH: A pair of positive COVID-19 tests recorded at StFX are not connected to each other or other cases in the Eastern Zone.
On, Jan. 9, provincial officials reported that a second StFX student tested positive, noting it was related to travel outside Atlantic Canada, they live on campus, and they have been self-isolating.
Last week, StFX recorded its first case of COVID-19. In a letter addressed to the StFX community, President Andy Hakin advised Nova Scotia Public Health contacted them on Jan. 5 to inform them of the positive COVID-19 test result on their campus.
“According to our information, the student arrived to campus on Jan. 3 and has been isolating in residence and following the prescribed safety protocols,” Hakin said. “During isolation, the student opted to go for testing which produced a positive result.”
On Jan. 6, the province confirmed that the case was related to travel outside of Atlantic Canada. They also confirmed the StFX student lives on campus.
The university said the student is continuing to safely isolate on campus, with the appropriate academic and operational supports in place, per the university’s pandemic plans.
The university explained in a post on social media the student flew into Halifax International Airport and had a pre-arranged driver to provide transportation services to Antigonish.
“On behalf of the university community, I wish to acknowledge and thank this individual for closely monitoring their health and for adhering to the health and safety protocols related to testing,” Hakin said. “By looking after ourselves, we look after our community.”
Along with the StFX students, other cases have been recorded recently in the Nova Scotia Health Authority’s Eastern Zone.
On Jan. 7, the province confirmed a new case; a close contact of a previously reported case.
Another new case was reported the next day, but according to the province, was related to travel outside Atlantic Canada.
The Eastern Zone includes all of eastern Nova Scotian and Cape Breton.
Antigonish mayor Laurie Boucher said she understands and empathizes with residents who may be feeling anxious after hearing this news.
“For the last number of months our community has done a very good job at following the public health guidelines to help prevent the spread of COVID-19,” Boucher told The Reporter. “And now is no different.”
Despite having a few incidents regarding gatherings last semester, the mayor suggested they were dealt with in the proper manner by the RCMP and StFX administration.
“As we move into the winter semester, the town remains committed to working with the county, StFX and our local health care providers to educate and keep residents informed,” Boucher said.
“But we need everyone’s support in order to protect the health and safety of our community.”
Any required contact tracing is being managed by public health, and those considered to be a close contact are being approached directly by public health officials. The university will reinforce and promote public health notices to ensure their community is well informed.
According to provincial regulations which came into effect on Jan. 4, post-secondary students from outside Atlantic Canada who return after the holidays and don’t have symptoms should get one COVID-19 test on day six, seven or eight of their self-isolation. The students must complete the full 14 day self-isolation, even if they have recorded a negative test result.
Because of a recent spike in COVID-19 cases in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia officials announced Jan. 8 that people entering from New Brunswick must complete the check-in form before arriving and self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival. Nova Scotians returning from New Brunswick must also self-isolate for 14 days, unless they regularly cross the provincial border for work.
“I want to take this opportunity to remind the community of the importance of self-monitoring for symptoms,” Hakin added. “As well as ensuring diligence with the basics of remaining safe – wear your mask, wash your hands, and practice social distancing.”
Nova Scotia, PEI, and Newfoundland and Labrador students will now be arriving back to campus on Jan. 24, after the New Brunswick students have finished isolating.
As a result of the new isolation requirements for New Brunswick students, the university said it will not be possible to start in-person classes until Jan. 25, and classes will run online from Jan. 13 to 22.