The Nova Scotia Health Authority is reminding the public to call 811 before heading to a COVID-19 assessment centre.
Spokesperson Brendan Elliott says as many as 120 people without an appointment showed up at the Cobequid Community Health Centre in Lower Sackville Wednesday.
"We haven't got a clue whether or not those people need to be assessed," he says. "We're talking about people that are already under the weather. Understandably they want to be seen and they're concerned about their conditions, but an 811 call will go a long way to alleviating their concerns."
At this point, only those who have travelled out of the country and have developed a fever with a temperature of 38°C or higher, and/or cough, are being asked to call 811 for a COVID-19 assessment.
"An assessment will be done over the phone," Elliott explains. "We have people on the other end of that phone who know symptoms, know the right questions to ask, and then the person who is receiving the call will be able to make a good judgement as to whether or not that next step is needed, which is of course the physical assessment at one of our centres."
He says there's a strong likelihood the person may not need to take that next step, but if they do, they will be given an appointment time.
"They're already feeling miserable, the last thing they want to be doing is sitting in a chair," he says. "If indeed they need to be seen for a physical assessment, if we can tell them 'come and we'll see you between 2 and 3 o'clock,' I think the patient will find that reassuring that they're not just going to have to sit and wait."
He says if people just show up without an appointment, the whole process gets delayed.
"We want to make sure we're providing the right care in the right setting at the right times," Elliott adds. "In order for that to work, we need people to call 811 first."