The Facebook group, called Caremongering-HFX: Halifax-Area Community Response to COVID-19, was created on Friday, two days before Nova Scotia saw its first three presumptive cases of COVID-19.
Amber Tucker, who created the group, said one of its main goals is to provide food, health care and other necessities to those currently in self-isolation or quarantine.
“We’re seeing a lot of people offering to help, whether that’s rides or supply trips or things that they might have that aren’t available in stores right now,” said Tucker.
Tucker added that the group is being utilized to redistribute resources, as stockpiling prevents people from accessing basic necessities.
Another one of the group’s main priorities, Tucker said, is relaying accurate information about COVID-19.
“Incorrect information during a pandemic is so dangerous,” she said. “It is a very frightening situation, and people are alarmed and may be relying on information from maybe less-verified sources.”
Over 5,700 people have joined the group since it was created on Friday, and there are now 11 users who moderate the content that’s posted.
All posts in the group have to be approved before they’re shared. Tucker said that became necessary as membership grew.
“People were starting to post unsubstantiated or just plain incorrect info, and we just don’t want that contributing to the confusion,” she said.
As of Tuesday morning, Nova Scotia has one confirmed case of COVID-19 and four presumptive cases.
Three presumptive cases were announced on Sunday. One has been confirmed. The province announced the other two presumptive cases on Monday.
As of March 16, there are 424 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus across Canada, with 14 of those in Atlantic Canada. Ontario currently has the most with 177.
As the number of cases rises across the country, so, too, do the Caremongering groups. There are now 35 groups in cities across Canada, with more than 30,000 members between them.
Tucker said the next step will be to help direct group members to political organizations that may be looking for volunteers in the coming days.
“We’re just going to keep putting the right information out there.”
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Health officials say the risk is low for Canadians but warn this could change quickly. They caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are asked to self-isolate for 14 days in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others.
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. And if you get sick, stay at home.
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