A Coast analysis of the Nova Scotia Health Authority’s “Potential COVID Exposures” site shows a major change over the last week in what Nova Scotians should do if they might have crossed paths with the disease. On April 19, only six percent of exposure sites recommended those who’d been there self-isolate while waiting for their test results. April 26, fully 60 percent of the exposure sites come with the instruction to self-isolate while waiting for your test result.
Today the list of sites is nearly four times as long as it was a week ago. And that’s not even including every single exposure site—since April 22, public health has been leaving lower-risk sites like grocery and retail stores off the list.
Last week, there were three different options: Continue self-isolating—connected to flight-based exposures for people who were already in the midst of their two-week isolation; Self-isolate if you have symptoms—the majority of the exposure sites gave this direction; and Self-isolate while awaiting results—only six percent of results said to do this.
This week, the directions to self-isolate for 14 days and to get tested immediately were added to the lineup. Those directed to self-isolate for 14 days are at the highest risk of exposure, so a single test isn’t enough to rule out COVID-19. Only five percent of the exposure sites directed people to do that, with 57 percent of the sites saying to get tested and isolate while you wait for your results—symptoms or not.
All these increases make sense, as community spread means the risk of actually getting COVID while out and about has increased. The shift also allows individuals to bear some of the burden while public health works as fast as it can to keep up with contact tracing. A tall task with a virus that spreads exponentially.
People who need to get a test because of a connection to a case or an exposure site are to book a test through the NSHA at one of the regular testing sites, not a rapid testing site. The wait for a test is about a day, then it can take up to three days to get the result, and now that time will probably be spent in isolation. But staying isolated during that time is paramount to slowing this thing down again.