P.E.I. Premier Dennis King declares 'public health emergency' on COVID-19
King announces $25M COVID-19 emergency contingency fund for Islanders financially affected
In Monday's second press briefing of the day, P.E.I. Premier Dennis King, via conference call, declared a public health emergency and is directing all provincial government employees who can work from home to do so for the next two weeks.
King was accompanied by P.E.I.'s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison and some of the province's cabinet ministers.
"A public health emergency is declared when either a health emergency exists or is imminent. And both are true in this case. Now is the time to do so and it allows us to make the decisions that we may need to in the days ahead," Morrison said.
Prince Edward Island follows the province of Quebec, which invoked the public-health emergency section of the Public Health Act on Saturday. It is the first time in Quebec's history that legislative tool has been used.
A COVID-19 emergency contingency fund has been announced to help Islanders, employees, small business operators and other employers who have been financially affected by the virus, King said.
Under the Public Health Act we would be able to issue orders for certain individuals.— Dr. Heather Morrison
He said the initial funding will be $25 million in addition to the federal government's initial offering of $10 billion for Canadians. Officials said the province will have more details in the next few days.
King added, "We will work closely with our federal counterparts. The whole idea is to make sure people have money in their pockets now."
"We feel we're in a good position to get this money out the door rather quickly," he said, "$25 million is just the initial offering of what will need to be more."
'Let's all do our part'
"Right now we have to remain calm, we have to do our individual parts," said Minister of Justice and Public Safety Bloyce Thompson.
Thompson said P.E.I.'s Emergency Measures Organization activated Level 2 response on Saturday, which means a provincial and regional response from government on P.E.I. He said the EMO is capable and ready to respond.
We're going to look at appropriate compensation for workers.— Brad Trivers, P.E.I.'s Minister of Education
"We are centralizing governments' response. We are co-ordinating our provincial response," he said, "We have a small window, as the CPHO said, to flatten the curve."
"Let's all do our part and together we will get through this."
According to the Public Health Act, under a provincial state of public emergency the chief public health officer will be able to:
- Order Islanders to refrain from attending any public gatherings.
- Order a public place or business to close.
- Manage hospitals and other health-care facilities and ambulance services.
Hotline for employers
Minister of Economic Development Matthew MacKay said a phone line has been developed to address the needs of the Island's employers beginning at 8 a.m. on Tuesday and will operate daily until 8 p.m. That phone number is 1-866-222-1751.
Minister of Education Brad Trivers said there will a plan put into place surrounding child-care for essential workers such health-care workers.
He said that all child-care centres, licensed and unlicensed, will be closing beginning March 17, until further notice.
"We're going to look at appropriate compensation for workers," he said.
Minister of Transportation and Public Works Steven Myers said in addition to provincial employees working from home, the province is also cancelling all public consultations and restricting government buildings to the public.
Morrison emphasized wherever possible, all Islanders should work from home.
She said bars and restaurants should also think about closing down their establishments.
"Under the Public Health Act we would be able to issue orders for certain individuals, this is more helpful if we can have gatherings not happen. I think this is the right thing to do," Morrison said.
COVID-19: What you need to know
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Common symptoms include:
But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia, which can lead to death.
What should I do if I feel sick?
Isolate yourself and call your local public health authority. Do not visit an emergency room or urgent care centre to get tested.
How can I protect myself?
- Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Be aware of evolving travel advisories to different regions.
More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government's website.
More COVID-19 stories from CBC P.E.I.
With files from Nicola MacLeod, Brittany Spencer and Sara Fraser