The Nova Scotia government is making sure tenants impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak can’t be evicted, while also committing $1 million to food banks across the province.
The announcements were made a press briefing in Halifax on Thursday, which was held virtually, rather than in person, for the first time since COVID-19 arrived in the province.
Department of Community Services Minister Kelly Regan says the investment in Feed Nova Scotia will allow the non-profit to purchase food and hire additional staff to support their operations.
“In these extraordinary times we need to ensure that community resources like food banks are able to continue their operations and expand their reach,” Regan said.
Regan also committed an additional $2.2 million on its income assistance program, where clients will automatically receive an additional $50 per person per household.
She said the funding will be in the hands of clients as early as Friday. The payment is in addition to basic assistance, Regan said, and will not be considered an overpayment.
“This investment will help approximately 26,000 families and over 40,000 people,” she said.
Premier Stephen McNeil announced no tenant in the province whose income has been impacted by COVID-19 can be evicted by their landlord, adding that support will be coming forward in the coming days.
14 cases now, 1 in hospital
The province announced Thursday that there are two more presumptive, travel-related cases of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia, bringing the provincial total to 14. The province said both cases were confirmed on Wednesday and are located across the province.
“Public health has been in contact with these individuals and is working to identify others who may have come in close contact with them,” the province said. “Those individuals are also being directed to self-isolate at home, away from the public, for 14 days.”
Dr. Robert Strang, the province’s chief medical officer of health, said one of the patients has since been admitted to hospital.
The 14 individuals affected range in age from early 30s to mid-70s. Northern Nova Scotia remains the only region without a positive case of COVID-19.
“The province is testing daily, working with our partners at the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg,” the province stated.
There are now nine presumptive positive cases and five confirmed cases in Nova Scotia, with 1,373 negative test results.
Potential exposures at Dalhousie, gymnasiums
The Nova Scotia Health Authority is advising the public of potential low-risk exposure to coronavirus within the Dalhousie University community and at two gymnasiums.
The provincial high school basketball tournament events were held at the Halifax Grammar School gymnasium and the Homburg Athletic Centre gymnasium at Saint Mary’s University between March 5 and 7, according to the health authority.
“Please note everyone who are high risk of exposure have already been identified and are now in self-isolation,” the health authority said.
Strang said during Thursday’s press briefing that someone in the Dalhousie University community has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
He said anyone that was in close contact with that individual “has been, or will be contacted directly by public health.”
“It’s important that people understand that if they have been directly exposed, they will be contacted or may already have been contacted by public health,” Strang added.
In a message to the Dalhousie community, president and vice-chancellor Deep Saini recognized the anxiety and uncertainty that the situation has created, but says it reinforces the importance of looking after each other.
“I acknowledge that we do not have all the answers. I appreciate your patience and understanding as we work through this unprecedented situation,” Saini stated.
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“We will be reassessing the situation ongoing while continuing to provide communication updates as they become available.”