Canada’s public health agencies are waiting to hear whether the World Health Organization is going to declare a global emergency over an outbreak of coronavirus in China.
Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab said the risk in Canada is low, but there is increasing concern globally for several reasons. “Initially when the it was first classified in late December and early January, all the cases were exposed to a live animal and seafood market and at that time the market was shut down. Since that time there has been evidence of ongoing transmission, which means there is some limited person to person transmission.”
“Secondly it has been spread to several other countries, including one case in the USA,” Shahab added. He said this has been exclusively people who were travelling in the area and either travelled while symptomatic or got symptoms upon arrival. He said this brings to light some things travellers need to remember. “If you are travelling, always check the Government of Canada website in terms of travel advisories. What it states currently for Wuhan is that if you do travel avoid live animal markets, wash your hands often, don’e touch your face, nose and eyes and some of the advice we give for influenza as well.”
If you have travelled and get sick while coming home, you are asked to call your health provider before going in and explain your symptoms so they can make sure no one else gets sick.
Shahab said some of the symptoms of coronavirus are coughing, fever and difficulty breathing, adding the protocol would have you isolated in the hospital to test for coronavirus and other respiratory infections. “The respose would be specific to rule out coronavirus and if coronavirus is ruled out, it would be treated like any other respiratory virus.”
The virus that has killed as many as 17 in China and infected more than 450 people.