No need to get symptom-free workers tested for coronavirus, says top N.S. health official

Nova Scotia’s top health official says “there’s no medical rationale” for employers to be asking employees who recently traveled to China to get tested for coronavirus.

That’s if they aren’t showing any symptoms.

Dr. Robert Strang says the 811 health hotline is getting up to three calls a day from people who say their employer wants them to get tested.

In addition to the test, Strang said they’re also asking for letters from a care provider before they return to work.

“The position from public health in Nova Scotia is that is inappropriate and unnecessary and they should not have to be required to do that,” he said.

“If their employer is still pushing on that, then those folks can call their local public health office and, if necessary, we will have a conversation with the employer.”

So far, all evidence is that coronavirus is not spread by people who are symptomless, Strang said. He said the focus is on people who have travelled to the Hubei province, where the virus originated.

The province recently launched a website on the 2019 novel coronavirus. It outlines a history of the illness, the symptoms and prevention tips. The World Health Organization has a myth buster page on coronavirus.

No cases in Nova Scotia

So far, there have been no cases of novel coronavirus in Nova Scotia and the province says the risk to Canadians and Nova Scotians is low. 

Strang said only one person in Nova Scotia has been tested for coronavirus and the result came back negative.

Strang said anyone who travelled to or through Hubei would have been identified federally through border health measures. 

But he said there’s no reason to test someone who has travelled to Hubei who is symptom-free.

“If they come in and say I need a test, nobody is going to test them. So we’re frustrating those individuals. And requiring a letter is just [more] red tape,” he said.

Coronavirus risk in Canada low

Case numbers are increasing in China, but there’s been no widespread transmission outside that country. 

The Public Health Agency of Canada, which is working alongside provinces and territories to monitor the novel coronavirus, says the risk to Canadians is low. 

Dr. Michael Gardam, an infectious disease specialist in Toronto, explains what’s happening with the virus and what Canadians should be aware of:

Infectious disease specialist says risk to Canadians is low 0:46
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