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Community advisory and resources for migrants re: COVID-19

For the most up-to-date information visit: https://bit.ly/3bmTsoa

Summary: This document contains general information about the COVID-19, as well as other useful information for undocumented migrants and those with precarious immigration status, who may need help related to the pandemic. This document is divided into the following sections:

  • Symptoms and official notices from the Gov’t of Nova Scotia
  • Accessing COVID-19 related healthcare, including eligibility information for testing and treatment, and suggested instructions for migrants who may have symptoms of COVID-19
  • Tips for social distancing, keeping yourself, your loved ones & community safe
  • Community resources & mutual aid, including accessing community relief-funds, assistance with non-emergency help (such as grocery store/supply delivery, running errands, babysitting children etc), and other

In response to the global pandemic of COVID-19, governments and public health officials in Canada have called for substantial measures such as closing the borders and recommending closures to all non-essential institutions and businesses in efforts for social distancing. The public has been encouraged to stay and work from home, as well as follow self-isolation and self-quarantine protocols for those that have related symptoms.

Due to these unprecedented actions in society, we are releasing this community advisory to share resources and information to our friends, family, and neighbours without status or who have precarious status; those who cannot work from or stay at home; frontline workers of this crisis such as grocery store workers, janitorial workers, public bus drivers, caregivers and healthcare workers; those who are locked in detention centres and prisons; and workers who cannot access EI or other government services.

We are also thinking of Indigenous communities in so-called Canada and worldwide, that are facing disproportionate impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, such as heightened discrimination within the healthcare system. We stand in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en, as the BC and federal government attempts to weaponize the healthcare crisis to ignore on-going land defense and calls to respect Indigenous sovereignty. We are thinking, and are in solidarity with all of you.

Below, you will find Nova Scotia-specific information related to COVID-19 that may be relevant and helpful if you are without immigration status or have precarious status. We will continue to update this document as we learn more about the crisis unfolding and as information becomes available to us.


Symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • Fever over 38-
  • Cough
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Pneumonia

The severity can range from mild to severe, and in some cases, infection can lead to death. Current information suggests most people don’t experience severe illness or need to be hospitalized. If you have related symptoms and need help with accessing medical testing, please message us at noii.hfx@gmail.com.

Notices from Government of Nova Scotia re: COVID-19

If you’ve travelled outside of Canada you must self-isolate for 14 days, even if you do not have symptoms.

If you have travelled recently and you develop a fever, with a temperature of 38°C or higher, or a cough, you should seek medical testing by calling 811.

Healthcare access (Can I get tested? How can I get treated?)

Public health officials in other provinces like Ontario and Quebec have announced that everyone is able to access free COVID-19 testing whether or not they have public healthcare and whatever their status. At the moment, the Nova Scotian government has made no statements regarding the ability of those without status to access public health care services and treatment related to COVID-19. We will continue to update this information as the situation evolves and information is released. That being said, if you are undocumented, have related symptoms and wish to seek treatment and testing, we recommend the following instructions:

1) To find out if you need to call the COVID-19 medical testing number, use this online self-assessment. Once the online assessment recommends that you call the hotline, call 811. If you would like us to call on your behalf or be with you while you call, please let us know (or email at noii.hfx@gmail.com). If you are asked for your healthcare number and you don’t have one, just say you don’t have one or you don’t have it near you. Unfortunately, we are not certain whether or not the nurse on the phone will allow for further evaluation if you do not have public healthcare insurance, as the Nova Scotia government has not made any official statement to allow COVID-19 testing and treatment to those uninsured. However, if they do continue to evaluate, and if there is a significant risk that it is coronavirus, the nurse will direct you to an in-person assessment centre.

2) If you have been referred after a phone evaluation, you can go to the special clinic. Again, if anyone at the special clinic asks you for a healthcare card, you can say you don’t have one or you didn’t bring it with you. If you would like to be accompanied, please let us know (or email at noii.hfx@gmail.com) and we will arrange accompaniment.

***Since the Government of Nova Scotia has not officially and explicitly announced that COVID-19 related healthcare services and testing are available to those without status, we recommend contacting us to call on your behalf or for accompaniment. If you have related symptoms and need help with accessing medical testing, please message us at noii.hfx@gmail.com***

Tips for keeping yourself, our community and loved ones safe:

Hygiene tips:

  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • If you use public transit, make sure to wash your hands before and after.
  • When coughing or sneezing, cover your mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or a tissue
  • Avoid touching your face, nose, eyes, etc.

Other precautions:

  • When possible, try social distancing (maintaining 2 metre or 6 feet distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing). Try using alternative modes of greetings (a wave or a nod for example).
  • Please take special precautions if you are older or have a serious chronic medical condition as you are particularly at risk.
  • Keep track of public health notices and other ways to reduce risk here: https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/
  • For questions related to COVID-19 and general info, you can contact 1-833-784-4397.
  • More advice from the World Health Organization about COVID-19: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public

Community resources and mutual aid:

Emergency Funds:

Community solidarity funds have been set up for people who require financial assistance as the crisis unfolds, in one-time grants of $100. Money is being dispersed via e-transfer, however NOII-Halifax may assist you if you do not have a bank account and cannot accept e-transfers.

Nova Scotia Community Solidarity Fund: An emergency fund for people living throughout Nova Scotia. Emergency grants of $100. More info to contribute and apply can be found here.

Black Lives Matter Solidarity Fund NS: An emergency fund for Black people living throughout Nova Scotia. Emergency grants of $100. More info to contribute and apply can be found here.

Non-Emergency Help:

For undocumented migrants and those with precarious status, please write to us at noii.hfx@gmail.com if you need help with any of the following:

  • Food drop offs;
  • Running any errands;
  • Accompanying someone to a health appointment;
  • Taking kids to any appointment they might have;
  • Walking someone’s dog;
  • Providing moral support / social support (for people who would like to talk to someone in person or by phone while in self-isolation);

For allies and those who want to help with any of the tasks above, please write us at noii.hfx@gmail.com.

Neighbourhood Response:

If you are interested in encouraging mutual aid during this pandemic, here are some resources to help you get started in your neighbourhood:

Neighbourhood Pods: https://docs.google.com/document/d/17iMBTzaM4tPsUym-wyiEqOcOAiHVKiXN3XSjJ26TBKM/edit#

Neighbourhood Card Templates: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1gUI8xTsylgULjN0HuPmZjshmARPRdTpd_JwJvRviPn4/edit

If you do not have status, have related symptoms and need help with accessing COVID-19 related medical testing/treatment, please message us at noii.hfx@gmail.com. If you are self-isolating and need any of the above services such as non-emergency help and help with accessing emergency relief funds, please get in touch at noii.hfx@gmail.com.

We will be in touch soon. Sending love and solidarity to everyone.

No One Is Illegal – Halifax/K’jipuktuk