A Toronto man who is believed to be Canada’s first, and most certainly not last confirmed case of the rogue Wuhan coronavirus was showing symptoms of the virus on his flight back from Wuhan to Canada last week, federal health officials said Sunday.
Officials are now “working rapidly” to trace passengers who were in close proximity of the man, who had recently travelled to Wuhan and who was travelling back to Toronto on China Southern Airlines Flight number CZ311 from Wanzhou last Tuesday, Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, told a media briefing Sunday morning.
Tam said droplets spread coronaviruses. In plane contact tracing, the focus is a two-metre radius she said. “We’ll be looking at the plane and its seating plan and where that patient was actually seated in order to trace other passengers” that were surrounding him, she said.
“The main focus in on actual fellow travellers” or anyone who may have administered care to the man while on the flight to Toronto, Tam said.
It would not be unexpected that there will be more cases imported into Canada in the near term
Health officials have informed the airlines and staff who may have been serving “that particular zone of the cabin as well,” Tam added. “Any other passengers should remain calm.”
While Tam said the risk of “onward spreading,” of the man infecting others, is low, “nevertheless it would not be unexpected that there will be more cases imported into Canada in the near term, given global travel patterns.”
The risk remains low and Canadians “should continue with their lives,” federal health minister Patty Hajdu said.
It appears the man did not report to border-service officers that he was sick when he arrived at Pearson International airport, despite messaging that appears on arrival screens reminding travellers from Wuhan to report if they have flu-like symptoms.
The man is in isolation at Toronto’s Sunnybrook Hospital and his family members are in “self-isolation” as a precaution, Ontario health officials said Saturday.
The illness has sickened at least 1,975 people and killed 56 in China since reports of mysterious cases of pneumonia in Wuhan City first surfaced on Dec. 31.
Canada’s national microbiology laboratory is working to complete testing and expects to confirm the country’s first case of the Wuhan virus within 24 hours.
“We’re working actively to limit the spread of the virus,” Tam told reporters Sunday, adding that the Toronto case was not unexpected given global travel. Canada’s disease prevention and control systems are designed to quickly detect and contain infectious diseases, she said. “It shows that our systems are working.”
However, based on the latest information, the man had symptoms while on the plane, and returned home by private car when he landed at Pearson on Wednesday.
His family called 9-1-1 on Thursday, the man complaining of fever and dry cough and that he had recently visited Wuhan. Paramedics, who wisely donned protective gear, took him to Sunnybrook, where he was put in isolation in a negative-pressure room.
When asked repeatedly if the man reported symptoms to border-service agents at the Toronto airport, Tam responded, “This patient was not reported to us, no.”
“When he became more ill, when he needed medical support, in fact he followed all the information provided at the airport,” federal health minister Patty Hajdu said, referring to messaging that people should contact their health care providers if they feel ill after travelling to affected areas. The man alerted first responders that he had recently returned from Wuhan. “For me, that is a sign that the information at the border did actually percolate through to the patient and his family,” Hajdu said.
Toronto Public Health officials are contacting close contacts, particularly passengers who had “prolonged contact” with the man, who is in his 50s, and others seated near him, Tam said. “What I would like to emphasize is that for other people on the flight, or in the airport or not in close contact with the patient is that they should not be overly concerned,” Tam said.
“For the rest of the plane, if you don’t get a call from public health authorities it means you were not right next to the two-metre radius of that particular patient,” she said. “You should take the information that you received at the border from the Public Health Agency of Canada as to what you should do if you develop symptoms.”
Hajdu said there is no need for alarm and that Canadians shouldn’t fear contracting the virus “in a casual setting.”
“My advice to Canadians is to take normal precautions to protect their health. People should continue their lives.”
Hadju said that, unlike the Americans, Canada is not currently looking at flying Canadian diplomats, their families or Canadians living in Wuhan back to Canada. “At this point it doesn’t appear that we have the need to charter a plane,” she said.
WHO 'very impressed' with Chinese response to coronavirus outbreak – National Post
GENEVA — The World Health Organization (WHO) is “very impressed” with the Chinese response to the global coronavirus outbreak so far, a senior official said on Wednesday, adding that the world had reached a critical point in efforts to tackle the disease.
“They are taking extraordinary measures in the face of what is an extraordinary challenge,” said Mike Ryan, Executive Director of WHO Health Emergencies Programme who accompanied the body’s chief on a trip to China this week.
“We are at an important juncture in this event. We believe these chains of transmission can still be interrupted.” (Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay and Emma Farge Editing by Gareth Jones)
Airlines suspend flights, extraction efforts in the works as Wuhan coronavirus infects thousands – CityNews Vancouver
VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The death toll from the novel coronavirus has now hit triple digits as more and more cases pop up in over a dozen countries.
Just this week, the first presumptive case of the virus was confirmed in B.C., after two others were confirmed in Ontario days earlier.
Watch: Presumptive case of coronavirus in Vancouver
Around 6,000 people have been infected in mainland China and a number of other countries thus far, surpassing the number of people infected by the SARS outbreak in the country back in the early 2000s. At least 132 people have reportedly died.
In an effort to contain the outbreak, China has cut off all access to Wuhan — the epicentre of the outbreak — as well as dozen other cities.
This comes as some airlines have moved to cancel select flights to the region. Air Canada has cancelled some flights to China over the coming weeks, while several other airlines said they were reducing the number of flights to the country as demand for travel to the area drops because of the outbreak.
British Airways announced it was suspending all flights to and from mainland China after the U.K. government warned against unnecessary travel to the country amid a virus outbreak.
Back in Canada, images have been circulating online, showing people with large water bottles worn on their heads and faces, some suggesting to protect against coronavirus.
While Vancouver International Airport hasn’t confirmed this was actually happening, it did say in a tweet, “Obviously not an effective measure.”
— Vancouver International Airport (@yvrairport) January 28, 2020
As airlines and travellers adjust their schedules because of the outbreak, the federal government is mulling over just how to get Canadians who want to come home out of China.
Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne says that every Canadian who has reached out for consular assistance will receive it, adding about 250 Canadians have registered with Global Affairs Canada to say they are in Wuhan. The federal government says 126 of them have asked for help to get home.
Canada is “looking at all options,” Champagne says. Meanwhile, Canada’s health minister says she doesn’t yet know whether any of the Canadians in quarantine in China are sick or would be quarantined if they do come home.
The spread of the new form of coronavirus has even impacted some international sporting events. A number of them have been postponed in China and Olympic qualifying tournaments are being taken elsewhere as a precaution.
-With files from The Canadian Press and The Associated Press
People are wearing water jugs over their heads against coronavirus (PHOTOS) – Vancouver Courier
While it isn’t uncommon to see people wearing face masks during an outbreak, some people take more extreme measures to protect themselves.
Earlier today, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry confirmed B.C.’s first novel coronavirus case: a man in his 40s who lives in the Vancouver Coastal Health region and recently returned from a trip to Wuhan, China.
Despite this, Dr. Henry says the risk of infection of the virus in B.C. is “still extremely low.” Nevertheless, some people are still concerned about contracting the virus in the Lower Mainland.
A person was photographed at Vancouver International Airport wearing what looks like a plastic container on their head and a mask over their mouth. In an image from the back, it appears that the person has cut a hole into the container in order to make room for their ponytail.
Lynne Carter posted the images to Facebook at roughly 2 p.m. on Jan. 28, captioning, “Fresh out of YVR. The latest anti-virus shields made with old water jugs.”
Carter also included a third photo of an adult with a child who are both wearing bottles on their heads.
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention does not advise wearing containers on your head to prevent a coronavirus infection.
And while there are currently no vaccines available to protect you against human coronavirus infection, the CDC advises that you may be able to reduce your risk of infection by doing the following:
- wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
- avoid close contact with people who are sick
The World Health Organization stopped short of calling it a global health emergency last week, while officials here have said Canadians are at low risk of contracting the illness.
Nevertheless, experts stress the need to be vigilant and prepared for signs of infection. If you have mild cold-like symptoms, health officials encourage you to stay home while sick and avoid close contact to help protect others. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and be sure to throw used tissues in the trash and wash your hands. Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces.
Here are some things for people in Canada to know about the coronavirus.
— With files from Nicholas Johansen / Castanet.
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