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N.S. commits $161M to help small businesses during COVID-19 pandemic
HALIFAX -- As Nova Scotia reports another presumptive case of COVID-19, the province is promising millions of dollars to help small businesses forced to shut down because of the pandemic.
During a news conference Friday, the government announced $161 million to help with cash flow and access to credit for small and medium-sized businesses in the province.
"I've put together a rapid response team to help us best understand the needs of small and medium-sized businesses and our first wave of supports is focused on those most immediately impacted," said Minister of Business Geoff MacLellan.
"We will take further steps as necessary."
The province is deferring payments for all government loans and small-business fees, including business-renewal fees and workers compensation premiums, until June 30.
Under the new measures, small businesses that do business with the province will be paid within five business days instead of the standard 30 days.
The province is helping students by suspending payments on Nova Scotia student loans for six months, from March 30 to Sept. 30. Students do not have to apply.
The government is also providing $15 million as an incentive for internet providers to complete projects as soon as possible so more Nova Scotians can access the internet while working from home.
N.S. announces another presumptive COVID-19 case
The measures come as Nova Scotia announces another presumptive case of COVID-19, bringing the total number of cases in the province to 15.
The province says the latest case is travel-related.
Of the 15 cases, 10 are presumptive and five are confirmed.
The individuals range in age from their mid-20s to mid-70s.
One person has been admitted to hospital as a result of COVID-19, the province confirmed Thursday, and is reported to be doing well.
The rest are recovering in self-isolation at home.
The Nova Scotia government says the cases are located across the province. It has stopped releasing the exact geographic locations of affected individuals.
Public Health has been in contact with them and is working to identify others who may have been in close contact with them.
Those people are also being directed to self-isolate at home, away from the public, for 14 days.
Officials have confirmed one of the cases is connected to Dalhousie University in Halifax. People who attended provincial high school basketball championships in Halifax earlier this month are also being warned that they may have been exposed to COVID-19, though their risk is low.
Anyone who was at a high risk of exposure has already been identified and is now in isolation.
As the number of COVID-19 cases increases, health officials say the demand for masks and personal protective equipment is also increasing, and they are working to secure additional supplies.
“There’s a bulk order for that, actually going in for that today, and we’re also reaching out to other industries and partners outside the health-care sector, such as the construction industry, for any additional supplies such as masks that they might not be using at this time,” said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, during Friday’s news conference.
Work is also underway on the setup of COVID-19 sites for patients who might have to be hospitalized, but so far, there is no indication as to how many sites will be set up or where they will be located.
Health officials say they are also trying to move hospital patients in order to free up beds. This includes moving some people to home care, long-term care, or, in some cases, to other hospitals.
As for COVID-19 testing, the province says it is testing daily. There were 1,546 negative test results as of Friday.
Nova Scotians who travelled outside Canada must self-isolate for 14 days when they return home. Anyone who travelled outside the country, or has been in close contact with a traveller, and is experiencing symptoms, is being asked to complete an online questionnaire before calling 811.