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St. Marys man tests positive for coronavirus

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Dr. Miriam Klassen, Huron Perth Public Health medical officer of health, and Andrew Williams, Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance president and CEO, announced Saturday that a St. Marys man tested positive for coronavirus. Cory Smith/The Beacon Herald

A 64-year-old St. Marys man is in serious condition at Stratford General Hospital after becoming the first person in the region to test positive for coronavirus.

“Having a confirmed case in our area is not unexpected given the transmission of this virus globally,” Huron Perth Public Health medical officer Dr. Miriam Klassen said at a press conference Saturday afternoon. “Although it is concerning to have a confirmed case, it’s important to remember that as a community and as a health system, we have been preparing for COVID-19. Our focus is on breaking the chain of transmission to limit the spread of infection. The risk to Huron-Perth residents remains low.”

The man recently travelled to Mexico and returned home March 2. He began feeling sick with an unrelated illness March 7 and self-isolated at home. His condition changed the evening of March 12 when he went to St. Marys Memorial Hospital’s emergency department. He tested positive for coronavirus and was later transferred to SGH.

“The system’s number one priority is the health and safety of our staff, patients, family members, caregivers, and that is our sole focus in dealing with these sorts of issues, so people need to be comfortable that the system is on top of this,” Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance president and CEO Andrew Williams said. “We’re dealing with it responsibly, we’re comfortable with the tracing that’s going on.”

It’s not known which part of Mexico the man visited. Klassen said the health unit has been working with SGH to make sure any potential exposures are identified and followed up, though she added it’s very unlikely the virus was being spread at the time of incubation.

The first presumptive case of coronavirus in Ontario was Jan. 25, 2020. As of Saturday morning, 6,646 people had been tested in the province, with 96 confirmed cases — not including the St. Marys man. In Huron-Perth, 14 tests had been given.

HPHA hospitals in Stratford, St. Marys, Seaforth and Clinton have COVID-19 testing kits with nasal and throat swabs, and Williams said there was a bump this week in the number of people visiting area emergency rooms looking for tests. Those in the ER who suspect they might have the virus are taken to a different site at the hospital, but anyone with mild respiratory symptoms are asked to stay home and self-isolate as testing is not required.

“You have to assume worst case in any scenario you’re dealing with, and we always do that,” Williams said, “but we’re just trying to be judicious. We want to reinforce at every opportunity we get that people shouldn’t just show up in the ER.”

For more information, visit hpph.ca/coronavirus, or call the health line at 1-888-221-2133, ext. 3267.

cosmith@postmedia.com

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It may not be the ideal time to go to the cottage in Nova Scotia – TheChronicleHerald.ca

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AMHERST, N.S. – With warmer weather on the way, and concerns about the spread of COVID-19, there are concerns about the impact the virus could have on cottage country near the border with New Brunswick.

“I haven’t heard of it happening here, but I’ve seen stories about cottage country in Ontario where it is happening,” area municipal Councillor Joe van Vulpen told SaltWire. “It would be a concern if it were to happen here because in some cases you may think you’re escaping when you’re actually carrying. It’s going to be a concern going into May, June and July with people going to their cottages.”

The area between Pugwash and the New Brunswick border at Tidnish Bridge has many cottages and many of them are in close proximity to each other. His hope is that most people would opt to stay at home this summer and only go to the cottage if they need to.

It’s a feeling shared by Cumberland County’s EMO co-ordinator Mike Johnson.

“If people are going to go their cottage and hunker down, stay there and not gather outside with others, whether they’re at their cottage or at their home it doesn’t make a big difference,” Johnson said. “The whole idea is to limit exposure. If people find they can limit exposure by going to the cottage and watching the water, then so be it.”

A Port Howe area resident, who asked not to be identified, said she has concerns with the upcoming cottage season.

“I live in cottage central. My concerns are people could be moving the virus around and they could be placing a burden on rural health care capacity,” she said. “They could also go undetected, or unenforced, for their isolation because no one is patrolling these areas and you know there will be campfires and other gatherings because no one is watching.”

The province’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Robert Strang said people going to the cottage run the risk of not having access to help should the need arise.

“If people in Nova Scotia go to a more remote area to protect themselves it’s OK as long as they’re being self-sufficient in that location,” he said. “However, if they have health conditions or are elderly and more vulnerable to severe conditions they also have to think about how they access care.”

Strang is urging non-Nova Scotians to refrain from coming to the province during the current crisis.

“This is not a time to be moving from one part of the country to another,” he said. “I would encourage people to stay in their home community in their home province as we all work to ride this COVID-19 situation out as a nation.”

While the Nova Scotia government began restricting access to the province at all entry points a week ago, some are being more closely watched than others.

The main land entry point at Fort Lawrence, near Amherst, is being staffed by provincial employees, but another land crossing 20 km away at Tidnish Bridge is not being monitored.

There’s just a sign there advising motorists to enter Nova Scotia via the Trans-Canada Highway.

“We are manning the main border and we continue to have an information stop to tell fellow Nova Scotians to go home and self-isolate,” Premier Stephen McNeil said Tuesday. “We have a number of people who cross that border daily for work and are practising all the protocols that public health has put out. Plus, we have goods and services crossing that border every day and we will continue to allow that to happen. If people are showing up at the border to vacation or socialize, we’re encouraging them to go home. If they choose to come to Nova Scotia, they have to self-isolate like the rest of us.”

Provincial Progressive Conservative leader Tim Houston said has supported the premier’s messaging throughout the health crisis, but feels all border crossings should be staffed, not just the major ones.

Houston said officials at the border crossings and law enforcement officers need to be given clear instructions and people need to understand self-isolation does not mean stopping to pick up groceries or gassing up their vehicles.

“We need to support the law enforcement community with clear instructions on how to handle that,” Houston said. “That should be consistent at all the crossings, including the secondary crossing at Tidnish. There should be someone there stopping cars and informing people that we are in a state of emergency and this is required if they wish to travel into Nova Scotia. They need to self-isolate. They need to know what this entails.”

Houston said there should be more than enough resources within the provincial government to ensure all the crossings are staffed.

He said if someone is going to their cottage they need to respect the requirements of social distancing.

“This is not the time for people to go to the cottage and have a bonfire or have a party with their neighbours,” he said. “Anyone who is going to their cottage needs to respect the advice of Dr. Strang and the premier and the requirements of the state of emergency.”

darrell.cole@amherstnews.ca

@amherstdaily

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Is the COVID-19 pandemic keeping you up at night? Here’s expert advice on how to get some sleep – The Globe and Mail

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With all the uncertainty and upheaval caused by the new coronavirus pandemic, Canadians may have a harder time getting a restful night’s sleep than usual. Yet sleep may be the very thing you need to get you through your day.

What can you do when your thoughts keep you awake at bedtime? What should you do if you’re roused at 3 a.m. and cannot fall back asleep? How do you ensure your children are getting the rest they need? We asked sleep experts for their advice:

So you can’t sleep. That’s okay.

“If [people] normally don’t have trouble sleeping and they’re having trouble now, they’re having a normal response to an abnormal situation,” says Charles Samuels, medical director of Calgary’s Centre for Sleep and Human Performance.

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During periods of stress, people typically experience mental rumination, where they have thoughts they cannot control or contain, he says. This is a completely normal psychological response and, especially at this time, people have legitimate worries, he says.

If this describes you, try some of the behavioural interventions described below. However, if you had trouble sleeping before the pandemic, and your sleep problems are now worse than ever, contact your doctor, Dr. Samuels says.

In any case, he advises against using over-the-counter sleep medication.

Quit checking the news

While many health experts have recommended that people limit their news media consumption, Dr. Samuels takes a firmer view.

“Paying attention to the media is just a really bad idea. In any psychological state where there’s a hyperarousal and hypervigilance, continuing to expose yourself to something that you can’t change is of no value.”

Watching the news everyday, and tuning into every news conference is not going to change the situation, Dr. Samuels says. So, he advises, just don’t do it – especially not before going bed.

“People should listen to what they’re told to do to be safe, and do that, and then get on with their lives.”

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Practice mediation and breathing techniques

Meditative and breathing techniques, such as “box breathing,” can be very useful for coping with stress and for helping you wind down before bed, Dr. Samuels says.

“People undervalue the calming effect of learning to breathe.”

Joanna Mansfield, staff psychiatrist at the women’s mood and anxiety clinic and the cognitive behavioural therapy clinic at Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, also recommends box breathing. In an e-mail, she describes how to do it: “Inhale gradually to fill your lungs with air, hold for 1-2 seconds, then exhale the air, hold for 1-2 seconds, and repeat. This can be done 7-10 times in a row, focusing on the breath.”

Get up if you wake up

If you wake up and cannot get back to sleep, get out of bed, go to another room, calm down and return to bed when you’re sleepy, Dr. Samuels says. Never check the time in the middle of the night, especially if it means using your phone or computer, since that can inhibit your ability to fall back to sleep, he says.

Stick to a routine

Keeping a routine is important for everyone, including children and adolescents, says pediatric sleep expert Reut Gruber, an associate professor in the department of psychiatry at McGill University. Your brain needs “zeitgebers” (time givers), or cues from the environment, to recognize day from night, she says.

These zeitgebers include having breakfast and exposing yourself to daylight in the morning, for instance, Dr. Gruber says. At night, the body produces melatonin when it gets dark, which tells your brain it is time to go to sleep.

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Since children and teenagers do not need to adhere to their regular school schedules right now, they need not wake up and go to bed at the same time as usual, she says, especially if bedtime is a battle. But whatever new routine they adopt, they should stick to it so that they have consistent wake times. They should start the day with a good amount of light exposure, eat breakfast and engage in activities that help their brains recognize it is daytime, she says. They should also wind down around the same hour each night to maintain consistent bedtimes. A hot shower before bed helps, she suggests. Prebed activities should include staying off electronic devices if possible. If not, use blue-light blockers or blue-light filters so as not to interfere with the body’s secretion of melatonin, she advises.

Prioritize sleep

Sleep helps your immune system, and it allows you to better regulate your mood, Dr. Gruber says. When sleep deprived, you are more likely to feel stressed and irritable – a terrible combination when you are stuck at home in close quarters with others, she says.

So make sleep a priority, she says. If you do not prioritize it, you will likely not make the effort to ensure you get a restful night.

Sign up for the Coronavirus Update newsletter to read the day’s essential coronavirus news, features and explainers written by Globe reporters.

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NS Records Largest Number Of COVID-19 In A Single Day – Huddle Today

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HALIFAX—Nova Scotia health officials confirmed 26 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday, marking the largest number of cases ever confirmed in a single day in the province.

Nova Scotia now has 173 confirmed cases of the virus, while 6,591 people have tested negative.

Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, pointed out today that part of the reason so many new cases were identified across the province yesterday is that so many more people in Nova Scotia are now getting tested.

The QEII Health Sciences Centre’s microbiology lab is working nearly around the clock, and yesterday processed more than 1,000 tests. Two weeks ago, it was only able to process about 200 tests a day.

“While we have 26 new cases out of 1,000 test results. That’s good news, a lot of people are testing negative,” Strang said.

However, he admitted he is still concerned about how quickly new cases are being identified, especially since he expects to see new signs of community spread at any time.

“This does make me nervous. I didn’t sleep well last night thinking about this,” he said.

He said that the next few weeks will be “critical” for Nova Scotia. As COVID begins to spread more rapidly social distancing and other public health measures will become even more important.

Even if Nova Scotians follow all the rules, he said, it could still be some time before things start going back to normal.

“I’m not sure if it’s June or July. But I keep coming back to the point that we know this isn’t just a two-week phenomenon. It’s a number of weeks: six, eight, 10 weeks at least,” Strang said.

“Even when things start to get better, we [won’t] just take everything off all at once,” he added. “We have to then loosen up the restrictions in a very carefully managed way. Even as we start to get back to normal it doesn’t mean we get back to full normal right away.”

COVID-19 Spread Continues at Seniors Homes   

Strang also pointed out today that health officials are still trying to oust the virus from several seniors facilities in the province, even as new cases continue to emerge.

One of yesterday’s new COVID-19 cases includes a staff member at the Magnolia residential care home in Enfield. That means there are now three staff members and two residents at the facility with COVID-19.

Strang said health officials are still trying to untangle exactly where the infection in that facility started, but that anyone at the facilities who have been in close contact with an infected person are in self-isolation.

Two other senior’s facilities—the R.K. MacDonald Nursing Home in Antigonish and Lewis Hall in Dartmouth—each have a staff member who has been infected.

Strang said both of those infections are related to travel or other cases.

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