One presumptive COVID-19 case “connected with the Dalhousie community”

Premier tells students in residence, "The best thing you can do is go home"

On Thursday, March 19, Dalhousie University confirmed a presumptive case of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) “connected with the Dalhousie community.” It’s unclear if the individual is a student, faculty or other staff member.

“If you have NOT been contacted directly by Public Health, you are not considered to have been exposed,” reads a memo from Dal President Deep Saini, issued at 3:23 p.m.

“I recognize the anxiety and uncertainty that this news creates for members of our community. This reinforces the importance of looking after ourselves and ‘flattening the curve’: reducing contact with other people (‘social distancing’), practising good hygiene and other measures that help slow the spread of the virus. Most of all, be supportive and understanding of one another as we work through this difficult time for our university and broader community.”

Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Robert Strang, reiterated the news in a press conference that afternoon.

“Anybody else in the Dalhousie community—Dalhousie wants them to be made aware, but it’s important that people understand that if they have been directly exposed, they will be contacted or may already have been contacted by Public Health,” said Strang. “These are examples of how things are going to play out in the coming weeks. We’re going to have more cases, more exposures in our communities and at some point we will get some community spread.”

Later in the same press conference, Premier Stephen McNeil said, “If you are a Nova Scotia student staying in our province in residence, staying in a dorm, we expect you to go home. We need to continue to make sure that we do not spread this throughout our province.

“The best thing you can do is go home to your home community and allow those students who have to stay on campus to have the opportunity to have a broader space.”

Dalhousie is asking all students in residence to vacate campus by March 20, save for extreme circumstances, “such as travel restrictions or personal circumstances.” Students requiring exemption should contact residence@dal.ca.

As of March 19, there are nine presumptive cases and five confirmed cases of coronavirus in Nova Scotia.

Visit dal.ca/novel-coronavirus.html and dsu.ca/covid-19 for up-to-date information.

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Rebecca Dingwell

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