Halifax prepares for spread of COVID-19

Two new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Ontario on Thursday bringing the total number of cases in Canada to 36. So far not a single case has been confirmed in Nova Scotia, but the Halifax Regional Municipality says they have been making preparations in case that changes.

“We started a few months ago actually, reviewing our plans for a pandemic response,” said HRM’s assistant chief of community risk reduction, Erica Fleck.

“Making sure that we had sufficient personal protective equipment for our personal responders and anybody else we would need them for.”

The municipality is also making sure that hand sanitizer is on hand for employees, particularly those who deal with the public, and are prepared to amp up cleaning efforts for public spaces.

“So for transit specifically, wipe down the surfaces, anything with a hardened surface would be wiped down,” said Fleck.

“We’ve also given direction for our cleaners in any HRM building to make sure all the doorknobs are cleaned daily and things like that, any entrance and exit points.”

A large part of the municipality’s focus right now is also educating the public.

“So our best defense is when you walk into buildings, try not to touch door handles, use your coat sleeves, going down escalators, don’t put your hands on them, using your knuckle instead of your finger to press a button on an elevator or keypad,” said Fleck.

Universities in Halifax are also emphasizing messaging on how to limit the spread of viruses. Many campuses are circulating information from the NS Department of Health, which recommends to:

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly
  • Cough or sneeze into a tissue or your elbow
  • Limit contact with other people when you’re sick
  • Limit touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  • Don’t share drinking glasses, utensils, bottles, mouth guards or cosmetics
  • Disinfect surfaces like taps, doorknobs and counter-tops

In addition to monitoring the ongoing situation, St. Mary’s University says in a statement that they have stopped all university-related travel to China until at least the end of March.

Meanwhile, NSCAD sent out a notice to staff and students that says as a precaution “NSCAD is not considering requests for use of space by external partners for the near future.”

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