Canada prepares for the new coronavirus as the death toll in China keeps rising
TORONTO -- As the new coronavirus claims more lives in China, health authorities in this country are trying to reassure Canadians that plans and procedures are in place to protect them.
While no cases have yet been confirmed in Canada, Dr. Peter Donnelly, with Public Health Ontario, said Friday that it is indeed "likely" the coronavirus, which comes from the same family of viruses as SARS, will arrive here.
However, Donnelly added that health officials are much better prepared now than they were in 2003 when SARS killed 44 Canadians. He noted communications are more robust, hospitals have better isolation facilities, and a reliable test is available to detect the coronavirus within 24 hours.
Health officials are also working with the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg to develop an even quicker test, and screening measures have been beefed up at major airports in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal. In addition, everyone is being urged to practice good hygiene that helps prevent the transmission of all viruses -- washing hands thoroughly, covering coughs and sneezes, and staying home if you're sick.
If the coronavirus does come to Canada Donnelly said "it will still be business as normal," and there will be no mass quarantining of people as authorities have done in Wuhan and at least 15 other Chinese cities populated by more than 50 million people.
China's National Health Commission reported Saturday that the death toll from the new coronavirus had climbed to 41, with the number of people infected rising to 1,287. And though infection cases are also reported in the United States, France and Australia, the World Health Organization has decided, at least for now, against declaring the outbreak a global emergency.