Hospital visits suspended in central zone of Nova Scotia due to COVID-19

The Nova Scotia Health Authority has stopped hospital visits in the central zone amid rising case numbers and community spread of COVID-19 in the Halifax area.

The restrictions include NSHA facilities in Halifax Regional Municipality, Eastern Shore and West Hants. 

However, up to two people will still be allowed in to support patients at the end of life, in palliative care, women in labour, and children under 18 who are admitted.

There are also circumstances where one person is allowed to help a patient. They include children in outpatients and those who have physical, intellectual, cognitive and emotional conditions. NSHA also says people coming for an early labour assessment can also bring one person with them. 

Caught off guard

The pause on most hospital visits in the central zone was announced on Twitter Friday night, hours after a public briefing with Premier Stephen McNeil and Dr. Robert Strang, catching some families off guard. 

Tim Houston, the leader of the provincial Progressive Conservative party, criticized the way people were informed, and said it should have been announced at the briefing. 

“There has to be a plan in place to ensure that families know what is happening to their loved one in hospital,” he said in a news release. “I understand the restrictions for safety, but if families can’t visit, they need a point of contact.”

On Monday, NSHA apologized to patients and their families for the timing. 

“This is a very difficult time for everyone and we acknowledge that the sudden change came as a surprise,” it said in a statement. 

“Based on advice and a recommendation from our clinical teams, we felt it was important to act quickly. Our priority is keeping COVID-19 out of our hospitals, which, as we’ve seen in other areas of Canada and around the world, can have serious implications.”

The health authority said it will continue to monitor case numbers and more changes may be made in the future. 


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