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No new COVID-19 cases reported in P.E.I. in over a week; province announces changes to agriculture programs
HALIFAX -- Prince Edward Island reported no new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, with the total number of cases on the island remaining at 26.
Out of the 26 confirmed cases, 24 are now considered recovered. Prince Edward Island's Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison said the province received 119 negative tests on Wednesday.
She also said the province now has the capacity to do up to 2,000 tests per week.
Prince Edward Island has received 2,490 negative tests, with 27 test results still pending on Thursday.
All confirmed cases of COVID-19 on the island have been connected to travel.
Eighteen of the cases are located in Queens County, with the other eight in Prince County. No cases have been identified in Kings County.
The individuals with positive cases on the island range in age from 20 to 79. Out of the 26 confirmed cases, 11 are women, and 15 are men.
The last new case reported by P.E.I. was on April 15, in a Queens County man in his 30s who had travelled internationally. Prior to that, the last new cases were reported on April 8.
Marion Dowling, Prince Edward Island's director of nursing, said the province continues to evaluate and plan for the return of some services.
“We need to do this safely, balancing the need to provide ongoing essential services and maintaining the capacity for a possible COVID-19 surge,” said Dowling.
P.E.I. announces changes to programs in agriculture sector
Minister of Agriculture and Land Bloyce Thompson said, during the pandemic, the island needs to make sure it is providing safe food for everyone, with their agricultural industry considered essential.
According to Thompson, the agri-food sector on the island represents 7.6 per cent of the province’s gross domestic product, with approximately 4,600 people employed in the Agriculture sector.
“About one-third of the province’s exports is related to agri-food. That’s $475 million,” said Thompson.
Thompson announced changes to two important programs in the agriculture sector.
“The Federal Provincial Business Risk Management programs will help farmers manage risks that threaten the viability of their farm operations,” said Thompson.
“For the next two years, AgriStability program will change the provincial portion of the cost to increase the coverage level from the program from 70 to 85 per cent. This will help all farmers and producers.”
Thompson said they will also now be covering the provincial cost of removing the reference margin limit.
“This will have a positive impact on the livestock industry,” said Thompson. “We are also pleased to offer interim payments up to 75 per cent.”
The new package will provide $5.6-million in additional support for farmers over a two-year period. Sign-up for the 2020 year has been extended from the original due date of April 30 to July 3.
The minister of agriculture and land also announced changes to the Agri-Insurance program.
“There will be a 10 per cent discount to producers’ share of the insurance premiums for two years,” explained Thompson.
Thompson said this will save farmers an estimated $3.2 million over the two-year period.
The province is providing support to the potato industry as well, with an investment announced in the amount of $4.7 million.
The island hopes this change will help mitigate the potato surplus because of the current market conditions related to COVID-19.
“The P.E.I. potato board will receive this funding to help the potato industry with shipping and storage of 2019 potatoes. This will help that no product is lost, so that farmers are in good position in the 2020 growing season,” said Thompson.
The Federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans also announced the province’s spring lobster fishery in the Gulf of St. Lawrence will be opening on May 15, two weeks after the original opening date.
Minister of Fisheries and Communities Jamie Fox said, although it’s not the original opening date, the province is happy, and supports the federal decision.
“Our department and industry partners have been working together with the chief public health office to have COVID-19 guidelines established to help on the fishing boats, on the wharf, and in the processing facilities,” said Fox.