Newfoundland premier, health minister to provide COVID-19 update

Premier Dwight Ball will update Newfoundlanders this afternoon on the state of COVID-19 planning and preparation in the Atlantic province.

He’ll be joined by N.L. Health Minister John Haggie and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald in a 2 p.m. NST press conference, livestreamed on the government’s Twitter, Facebook and YouTube pages.

As of Friday morning, there were no new cases of novel coronavirus in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Three residents are impacted, all of whom resident in the Labrador-Grenfell health district and are in self-isolation.

Nearly 700 residents have been tested for the virus and nearly 300 are self-isolating under close watch by public health officials.

The pandemic has had serious financial implications for the cash-strapped province, where both Equinor and Husky Eneergy have deferred the Bay du Nord offshore development project due to falling oil prices and economic downturn.

A statement from Equinor Canada says planning on the project will continue with adjusted timelines.

The project in the Flemish Pass Basin, about 500 kilometres east of St. John’s, was announced in 2018 but not yet officially sanctioned. Equinor had set a target of 2020 to decide.

The provincial government recently declared a public health emergency, and moved to close most communal spaces, including gyms, bars, dance studios, performance centres, movie theatres, bingo halls and schools.

Beginning Saturday, liquor stores across the province will also close, although measures to allow phone and email orders are currently being developed.

“I want to continue to stress the important of social distancing,” Fitzgerald told reporters on Thursday.

“I encourage you to talk to your children about why we are all taking these measures now — we want to prevent people from getting sick.”

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