Coronavirus: Nova Scotia seeks advice, funds from feds to deal with COVID-19

To date, there have been no confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Nova Scotia, but plans and safety measures are being put into place for if and when the virus shows up.

The province has already set up eight assessment sites to deal with COVID-19 and says it’s prepared to open more.

In the meantime, the federal government announced funding support for the provinces Wednesday morning, where it will direct $500 million to help boost local health-care systems and make sure the necessary tools and equipment are in place to deal with the viral disease.

“We knew they (the federal government) would help in the provinces,” said Premier Stephen McNeil. “But I don’t know all the details around it.”

McNeil will learn more Friday when he heads to Ottawa to take part in the First Ministers’ Meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland.

COVID-19 will be part of the conversation Friday but so will cruise ships.

“Most of these cruise ships are bringing thousands of people in at the same time and we also know from a very practical point of view, so far globally they’ve been leaving everybody on the cruise ship, it’s kind of creating a petri dish effect,” said McNeil. “So how are we going to deal with that? We will need Health Canada and them to be part of that conversation.”

Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa tam recommended Canadians avoid all cruise ship travel due to COVID-19 but cruise ship season in Halifax is a month away and no announcements or cancellations gave been made yet.

Health and Wellness Minister Randy Delorey said provincial and federal officials have been evaluating the scenario.

“What makes this area challenging, it is cross-jurisdictional, the cruise ship and passengers remain in federal jurisdiction until they disembark so those conversations continue,” Delorey said.

At the Wednesday press conference, Prime Minister Trudeau said an announcement regarding cruise ships will be made shortly.

Nova Scotia is still waiting to see how the $500 million will be delivered to the provinces to boost the health-care systems.

Delorey says the conversations between all parties are ongoing and much of the funds will go to help purchase equipment and medical resources needed to fight the virus.

“What’s great about the national cooperation and all of us coming together, is we’re working on joint procurements so that we can collectively put in our orders when supplies are needed to ensure that collectively across the country that all out jurisdictions have the equipment that we need,” said Delorey.

The World Health Organization has officially declared the outbreak of novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19, a pandemic.

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