MAIN PHOTO: Dr. Robert Strang said N.S. does not want to go back into a lockdown, but it’s a possibility if they don’t get COVID19 under control. (Communications N.S. photo)

FALL RIVER: The following is partial remarks from Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health, from the press briefing held on Tuesday, Nov. 17.

We asked if we could obtain it to pass on to our readers and the Department of Health and Wellness assisted us:

“Last week I said Nova Scotia is at a tipping point. This week it is starting to feel the like we are on a roller coaster. There are a few different paths the roller coaster can take and some are more gentle than others.

We are starting to see community spread. Travel is not just the primary cause of the cases in the province now. We have a number of cases where we have not been able to identify a source. That is how we define community spread. This is very concerning.

We must move beyond talking about clusters and focus on causes and respond quickly. Other jurisdictions have been slow to respond when faced with this reality. We will not. We will get this right.

A slow reaction gives COVID time to take root. And spread. Overwhelm the health system. And, as we’ve seen, putting our most vulnerable citizens in harm’s way. We don’t want to have that here again.

Nova Scotia does not want to return to the days of a full lockdown. But if we fail in stopping this outbreak, it will be our only option. So how do you prevent that? There is no one solution.

There are 960 thousand solutions that rest with each and every Nova Scotian. We can slow and stop the transmission of COVID-19. Each  and every one of us now has the ability to be a COVID Guard because make no mistake, this is a fight.

First and foremost, we need to return to being more careful following our public measures:

•Frequent and thorough hand washing

•Always wear a mask in indoor public spaces–the science now shows it protects you and others around you

•Make sure the mask is effective and you are wearing it properly. That means covering your nose and mouth. Using a good two-layer or three-layer mask, not a scarf or a thin gaiter. And wash them regularly.

•Maintaining physical distance by staying two metres or six feet apart from others at all times, even while wearing a mask.

•Explicitly following the gathering limits. No more than 10 people in your close-knit social circle, and keep that social group consistent.

We know people have gotten lax with the gathering limits. It’s natural to let our guard down when we think things are going well but now is the time to pull it back.

•If you feel unwell, stay home from work or school or activities and get screened for a COVID-19 test. Id’ even take it one step further to say that even if you don’t have more than one symptom and don’t meet the criteria for a COVID test –stay home for 24 hours and reassess.

Being overly cautious at this point is a good thing.

•I know that missing work will have financial implications for some. We’re again calling on workplaces to be supportive. Support your people to stay at home when they are sick and promote working from home if it is possible.

•This is not the time to take a trip out of the bubble unless it is really necessary. No boys’ trips to Montreal, no shopping visits to T.O., no visiting your nephew in Manitoba. Stay home and enjoy what Nova Scotia has to offer.

If you have to leave the bubble, self-isolate on your return to Nova Scotia. Be diligent in your self-isolation.

•Likewise, don’t welcome guests into your home unless they have no choice but to come.

I know that we have been dealing with this pandemic for nine months now. It’s understandable that complacency has set in. Many of you are tired. Many of you are afraid and feeling anxious. I know there are challenges.

The measures I’ve mentioned are simple in nature but can sometimes be difficult in practice. There are sacrifices, yes.

Nova Scotians are famous for coming together in crisis and supporting each other. That is when we shine. Now is that time. Now is our time.

To stand up against COVID-19. Our province’s young people are important to Nova Scotians. You are our future. And you can be leaders now in the stand against COVID-19.

One year, five years, 20 years from now I know you want to look back to the pandemic times and say that you got it right, you did your part –you were a COVID Guard.

It may not seem like a big deal now, but if your actions can directly affect your friends, your coworkers, your family, your grandparents, your neighbors, the server at the bar or the cashier at the grocery store and their health … that’s a big deal.

So, what will you see when you look back to today: I’m hoping it will be a lot of nothing. That’s right, I’m asking you to do nothing. As little as possible.

•Reduce the amount of times each week you go out to socialize. Try to get to only once.

•Keep your social circle small.

•I know young people are the most social demographic and socializing is important. Keep house parties to a select group of 10 friends.

When you go out, go with the same 10 friends.

•You are the experts at social media. Video conferencing like FaceTime or Zoom is second nature. I know it’s not the same as being together in person, but use those to connect and stay connected instead of face-to-face gatherings.

•If you are feeling unwell, stay home from work or school.

•When you do get together, remember alcohol reduces inhibitions and that means you are less likely to follow public health measures. Keep that in mind when you choose to drink.

•Your mask is your signal to everyone that you are a COVID Guard. Wear it proudly and often. You can’t over do it.

Doing these things together, now, will protect the people we care about, and it will help us get back to doing those things we love.

I have been talking to our young people for the last few minutes but everyone in Nova Scotia should be listening. There is not one age group or town or region responsible solely for the fight against COVID-19.This is a fight we’re all in. All 960 thousand of us.

We are all Nova Scotia’s COVID Guards.”