Manitoba Public Health watching for new coronavirus that sickened hundreds of people in China

No confirmed cases in Canada yet and risk to Manitobans is considered low

Although the risk to Manitobans from the new coronavirus that has sickened hundreds of people in Wuhan, China is low, the province’s chief public health officer says precautions are being taken to ensure it is identified if it makes its way here.

“We are prepared for a suspected case and have contingencies in place to deal with it,” said Dr. Brent Roussin at a Jan. 23 news conference.

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Health care providers such as doctors and nurses have been advised to question patients with relevant symptoms, which include fever, coughing and acute respiratory illness with or without pneumonia, about their recent travel history and to take steps to prevent infection if they have been to Wuhan within two weeks of symptoms showing up or in contact with someone who has. Anyone with those symptoms and that travel history will be reported to Manitoba Public Health and then isolated from other patients. Health care providers would also be required to wear an eye shield and a mask while treating them.

The Public Health Agency of Canada said Jan. 23 that there are no reports of this coronavirus in Canada and it is not aware of any cases of it affecting Canadians overseas. The agency said it is working closely with partners including the World Health Organization to monitor the outbreak in China.

The United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the new coronavirus, which belongs to the same family of viruses as the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) coronavirus and the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronavirus, has been spread from person to person in Wuhan but that it is unclear how easily the virus spreads among people. The outbreak in China began in early December 2019 and continues to grow in scope and magnitude, the CDC says.

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