2020-03-25

Nova Scotia government announces more money to fight virus even as it warns of its continued spread

by Charles Mandel

Dr. Robert Strang, the chief medical officer for the province, continued to warn of the potential of the spread of COVID-19 within communities, even as virus exposures came to light at two Halifax schools. He made his comments during a news conference on March 19.

The Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) sent out a release advising of potential low-risk public exposure to COVID-19 at two Halifax locations between Thursday, March 5 and Saturday, March 7.

People who visited the following locations during this period should closely monitor their health for COVID-19 symptoms: Halifax Grammar School gymnasium, and the Homburg Athletic Centre gymnasium at Saint Mary's University.

Public Health is aware people attending provincial high school basketball tournament events at these facilities might have been exposed to COVID-19 during these dates.

The NHSA said everyone who is at high risk of exposure have already been identified and are now in self-isolation, but said here may be others who had low-risk exposure, and may at some point show COVID-19 symptoms.

"In Public Health, part of our work is to notify the public about low-risk exposures so individuals can monitor their symptoms and take the necessary steps to be assessed and tested, with the goal of limiting the spread of infectious disease," said Dr. Claudia Sarbu, Central Zone Regional Medical Officer of Health.

It is anticipated anyone exposed to the virus at these events will develop symptoms by Saturday, March 21.

Sarbu said the risk is low for anyone not already identified, and who attended these facilities during these dates.

In the meantime, one of the first of the 14 cases in Nova Scotia was admitted to hospital at the Halifax Infirmary following a 911 call. Strang said the individual is doing well.

Currently, Nova Scotia has five confirmed cases, and nine presumptive cases of COVID-19, for a total of 14. The cases are located across the province, with the exception of northern Nova Scotia, and the individuals range in age from the early 30s to mid-70s.

Premier Stephen McNeil asked any Nova Scotia students still in university dormitories to return to their homes in order to help give the remaining students more space.

He also offered a strong admonishment to students, telling them that on campuses there should be absolutely no partying or large gatherings.

AAt the news conference, Kelly Regan, the Minister of Community Services, said the government would invest $2.2 million so that every individual and family member on income assistance will receive an additional $50 starting March 20, to help pay for food, cleaning supplies and personal care items. People do not need to apply.

The province also announced a $1-million investment to Feed NS for the purchase of food and the hiring of more staff; as well as $230,000 in support for seniors for community link and senior safety programs..

The government also mandated that no tenant in Nova Scotia who has been impacted by COVID-19 can be evicted by a landlord.

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