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Nova Scotia extends coronavirus state of emergency, announces new support funds

Coronavirus outbreak: N.S. extends state of emergency
Officials are set to provide an update on Nova Scotia's response to the COVID-19 pandemic at 3:00 p.m. AT

Nova Scotia has announced a pair of funds that are meant to help workers and small businesses in the province.

Premier Stephen McNeil announced the two $20-million funds during a provincial update on Thursday.

The first is known as the Worker Emergency Bridge Fund.

Nova Scotia will distribute a $1,000 one-time payment to those who are self-employed or who were laid off but do not qualify for federal employment insurance, McNeil said.

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The second fund is meant to support the province’s small businesses and is called the Small Business Impact Grant.

Coronavirus outbreak: Nova Scotia announces two new emergency funds for workers and businesses
Coronavirus outbreak: Nova Scotia announces two new emergency funds for workers and businesses

McNeil said eligible “small businesses and social enterprises” will receive a grant of 15 per cent of their revenue from sales — either from April 2019 or Feburary 2020, up to a maximum of $5,000.

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Both funds come from a new $50-million fund that will be administered by Dalhousie University, McNeil said on Thursday.

The province says eligibility for the programs is not affected by a person or business being enrolled in another provincial program or the federal initiatives.

Details on who will qualify or how people can apply will be provided “early next week.”

Coronavirus outbreak: Nova Scotia announces two new emergency funds for workers and businesses
Coronavirus outbreak: Nova Scotia announces two new emergency funds for workers and businesses

READ MORE: NSHA issues public advisory of two potential COVID-19 exposures

Dr. Robert Strang also faced questions over whether members of the public should be using masks.

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He said that the evidence around masks is evolving and that the province will adapt its response as the evidence becomes clearer.

Strang also said an “urgent discussion” will be happening Friday across the province’s health system on how Nova Scotia can adjust its response around protecting health workers as community spread becomes a great risk.

Anxiety vs Fear in the war against COVID-19
Anxiety vs Fear in the war against COVID-19

Also on Thursday, the province extended its state of emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic by two weeks.

A release said cabinet convened by teleconference and agreed to ask the lieutenant-governor to extend the state of emergency for another two weeks.

The order will take effect at 12 p.m. on Sunday and last until noon on April 19.

READ MORE: Live updates — Coronavirus in Canada

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According to testing data released by the province on Thursday, there have been 20 additional cases of COVID-19 identified in Nova Scotia.

That brings the total number of cases in Nova Scotia to 193.

The provincial government says five individuals are currently in the hospital while 16 people have had their cases resolved.

Nova Scotia has released a series of coronavirus data infographics that can be found on the government’s website.

Coronavirus outbreak: Health officials confirm 20 new cases of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia
Coronavirus outbreak: Health officials confirm 20 new cases of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

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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. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.