Nova Scotia

N.S. boosts funding for food banks, income assistance and bans evictions related to COVID-19

Province announces it is giving $1 million to Feed Nova Scotia and increases income assistance by $50 per recipient amid COVID-19 pandemic.

2 more presumptive COVID-19 cases in Nova Scotia, bringing total to 14

Stephen McNeil announced Thursday that no tenants in Nova Scotia can be evicted due to lack of income owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. (CBC)

The Nova Scotia government is spending $1 million to help shore up the province's food banks and is banning evictions as vulnerable people across the province struggle with the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Community Services Minister Kelly Regan and Premier Stephen McNeil made the announcement Thursday at a news briefing in Halifax.

The province will also spend an additional $2.2 million on its income assistance program. Clients will automatically receive an additional $50 per person as soon as Friday, said Regan.

She expects 40,000 people to be helped by the effort.

"Clients do not need to apply," said Regan. "As we monitor the situation, we'll determine when additional assistance is needed."

The premier said no tenant whose income is affected by COVID-19 will be able to be evicted from their home. The premier said the province would be making more support announcements in the coming days, which are intended to compliment announcements the federal government made on Wednesday.

McNeil said the government would spend $230,000 on existing programs to help senior citizens. The money should help programs expand hours and address the costs of delivering groceries and other needs.

1 case admitted to hospital

Provincial officials provided details of the program on the same day two new presumptive cases of COVID-19 were announced. Both are related to travel.

As of today there are now five confirmed cases and nine presumptive cases of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia.

Dr. Robert Strang, the chief medical officer of health for the province, said his team is working to identify anyone else who had close contact with the new cases. Those people are being told to self-isolate for 14 days at home, away from the public.

One case was recently admitted to the COVID-19 unit at the Halifax Infirmary and is doing well, Strang said. The other 13 cases are recovering at home.

Public notice of 'low-risk' exposure

Meanwhile, Public Health issued a news release "advising of a potential low-risk public exposure" to COVID-19 in Halifax.

They are asking anyone who visited the Halifax Grammar School gym and Homburg Athletic Centre gym at Saint Mary's University between March 5 and 7 to closely monitor their health for COVID-19 symptoms:

"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 release said.

"Please note, everyone who is at high risk of exposure have already been identified and are now in self-isolation."

To date, Nova Scotia has 1,373 negative test results to go along with the presumptive and confirmed cases. A case can only be confirmed after it is reviewed by the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg. Strang said the province is working to double its testing capacity to be able to do 400 tests per day.

As he has each day this week, McNeil stressed that anyone returning to the province from outside of Canada must self-isolate for 14 days, even if they have no symptoms. He called on people who know of friends or loved ones who are travelling to remind them of the requirements.

"It is the single biggest thing that each of us can do for each other."

Public Health says if a person has been in close contact with someone who has travelled and is experiencing fever above 38 C and/or a new cough, they should complete the online questionnaire before calling 811. The online questionnaire can be found at 811.novascotia.ca.

Increased protocols to fight spread

The province has increased measures on an almost daily basis to try to limit the spread of the virus, particularly as people return from trips outside the country.

Those steps have included closing schools, daycares, bars, certain businesses and limiting restaurants to providing only takeout and delivery services.

Hospitals have put a moratorium on visitations, with very limited exceptions, elective and non-urgent services have been cancelled and a pathway has been created to re-licence recently retired doctors and nurses to bolster the ranks of health-care workers.

Strang continued to encourage people, even if they have no symptoms, to keep practising social distancing.

While he discouraged parents from taking their children to playgrounds, he said there's nothing wrong with people getting outdoors and being active, as long as they're keeping sufficient distances from other people.

Nova Scotians can find up-to-date information along with hand-washing posters and fact sheets at novascotia.ca/coronavirus.

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