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Canadians being told to prepare for a possible novel coronavirus pandemic



Workers wearing protective suits walk away from the quarantine cruise ship Diamond Princess south of Tokyo, Feb. 10.

Kim Kyung Hoon / REUTERS

As novel coronavirus outbreaks spread across a growing list of countries, Canadians are being warned to prepare for a possible pandemic.

In a shift from previous messages, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Theresa Tam acknowledged Monday that Canada may no longer be able to contain and limit the virus if it continues to spread around the world. She said governments, businesses and individuals should prepare for an outbreak or pandemic.

“We are coming to similar conclusions,” agreed Dr. Vera Etches, the City of Ottawa’s top health officer, on Monday. “It looks like it is going to be more and more difficult to contain this virus and it may well evolve into a pandemic. That would change the efforts to contain every last case and contact.”

Etches said people can take steps now, at home and at work, to prepare.

Some of those steps include stocking up on needed prescriptions ahead of time so there is no need to do so during a possible pandemic. She also recommended people stock up on non-perishable food.

“Imagine if someone was ill for a week. What would you need?”

She said there are ongoing discussions about setting up an assessment centre outside of hospitals to reduce pressure on the health system.

“The global risk situation is evolving,” said Tam, noting that the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, has grown beyond its epicentre in China to include rapid community spreading in several countries. “The window for containment is closing. These signs are worrisome.”

She made the comments shortly after Ontario and British Columbia confirmed their latest cases of novel coronavirus, bringing the Canadian total to 11. In Ontario, a woman in her twenties, who returned to Toronto after travelling in China, is the latest presumptive case. The patient has only mild symptoms and has isolated herself, say Ontario health officials.

Health officials are also tracing contacts after a woman arrived in Vancouver from Iran, by way of Montreal, with novel coronavirus. A man who was a close contact of the woman, has been confirmed as the country’s 11th case.

Iran is now home to an epidemic with 13 confirmed deaths, according to the government. Italy is the site of Europe’s first outbreak. The country locked down at least 12 communities and cancelled a Venice carnival after six deaths as of Monday. South Korea also has a growing outbreak as do a number of other countries.

On Monday, Tam said it’s possible novel coronavirus is present in countries that don’t have the capacity to detect and monitor it, which makes trying to identify potential cases coming into Canada at the border increasingly difficult.

Countries like Canada have, so far, succeeded in identifying and containing the virus to a few, mostly mild, cases. But if there are more and more countries involved, she said, the border measures used to identify potential cases might no longer be effective or feasible.

“This is something we have to be prepared for.”

Tam said the quickly evolving situation tells Canada and other countries “that we have to prepare in the event of more widespread transmission in our communities.”

Given the global situation, Tam said it will be very difficult to stop the virus from spreading, but slowing it down is Canada’s goal.

Delaying the onset of a broader outbreak in Canada could put it beyond seasonal flu and virus season, which would take pressure off the health system and give officials and individuals more time to prepare.

A delay would also allow health officials to better understand the novel coronavirus and give researchers more time to look for treatments.

“We are trying to push past winter respiratory season. That will help a lot.”

The World Health Organization is telling countries to prepare as if COVID-19 is a pandemic, although it has not declared it one.

Etches, meanwhile, said people should be prepared in the workplace as well, by ensuring someone else is available to take on necessary tasks if an employee is sick.

Etches and other health officials continue to encourage people to wash their hands regularly and practice keeping their hands away from their faces to prevent spread.

There have been no cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa. To date, 25 people have tested negative. Etches said one or two people come to the attention of Ottawa Public Health every day and are assessed as to whether they meet the case definition for testing.

In Ontario, 540 potential cases have tested negative, nine are under investigation, three cases have not been resolved and there is one new presumptive positive. British Columbia has had a total of seven cases.

Meanwhile, the remaining Canadians repatriated from Wuhan and quarantined at Trenton Air Base are due to head home. In Cornwall, at the Nav Centre, 129 Canadians are being quarantined after having been evacuated off the Diamond Princess cruise ship. In Japan, 48 Canadians who were aboard the cruise are being treated for symptoms of COVID-19. Thirty four of the former passengers are hospitalized, said Tam, two of them in critical condition.

Globally, there have been 79,331 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 77,262 of them in China. There have been 2,595 deaths in China and 23 deaths outside China, with cases in 30 countries.

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Here's what you should know about wearing cloth face masks – CollingwoodToday



Medical officials are still stopping short of recommending the general public wear homemade masks, but they are suggesting a cloth mask could help slow the spread of COVID-19.

Dr. Charles Gardner, medical officer of health for Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, said today a homemade cloth mask could help someone who doesn’t know they have the virus keep from spreading it to others.

“People should be aware they’re not of proven value,” said Gardner. “If there is any value in them it’s more from the point of view of avoiding infecting others.”

A cloth mask could keep droplets from your nose and mouth from entering someone else’s airway or landing on and contaminating a surface.

“They have not been shown to prevent respiratory viruses from entering your airway,” said Gardner.

But it shouldn’t replace any of the other preventative measures being recommended by public health organizations in the province and country.

“What’s really important is that people do their physical distancing and their handwashing,” said Gardner.

He also recommends people stay home, think twice about whether or not they need to go out, and if they do, to focus on quick trips for essential items while still maintaining a two-metre separation with any other people.

“The more we do, the better we do this, the less that surge will be,” said Gardner. “April is a very key month for us in this outbreak. This month we’re going to see the extent to which the surge occurs. If we were very successful it will be a limited surge. If we were less successful it will be a bigger surge more likely to overwhelm our healthcare system.”

There are now 98 lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases in the region, more than 10 of those at Bradford Valley, a long-term care facility.

Gardner stressed members of the general public should not be wearing medical-grade masks.

“All of those we really need to retain for healthcare workers because of a limited supply,” he said.

Additionally, there are specific fits and protocols that make surgical masks and N95 masks effective PPE. Without following those specifications, a medical-grade mask will not offer effective protection.

If you are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19 including coughing and sneezing, stay home, indoors, for at least 14 days.

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief medical officer of health, said today people can use homemade cloth masks to prevent spreading the virus to others. She said there is increasing evidence people can transmit the virus before knowing they are sick, and keeping their mouth and nose covered while in public – in addition to frequent handwashing and physical distancing – could help reduce spread.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has posted some tips on its website on using cloth face masks to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

The CDC says to use a mask that fits snugly, is secured with ties or ear loops, includes multiple layers of fabric, and can be laundered and machine dried without changing shape.

If you are using a cloth mask, put it on before you go out in public, and then don’t touch it or your face again. Once at home, remove the mask without touching your face, and put it in the laundry. Wash your hands thoroughly and disinfect surfaces you touched on the way in.

The CDC also states a cloth face mask is an additional, voluntary public health measure and should only be used with proper handwashing and physical distancing practices.

You can find sewing and no-sew instructions for cloth face masks on the CDC website.

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Homemade face masks can protect others, but not you: health officials – CTV News Winnipeg



The increase in demand for personal protective equipment has led to an increase in demand for homemade face masks.

Monday both the Federal and Provincial Government said there’s a benefit to wearing homemade masks when in public.

Dr. Theresa Tam, chief public health officer for Canada, said the Special Advisory Committee for COVID-19 concluded wearing a non-surgical mask can help protect those around you, but it doesn’t protect the person wearing it,

“Wearing a non-medical mask in the community does not mean you can back off of the public health measures that we know work to protect you,” said Tam.

She said we can’t “relax” any of our physical distancing efforts, but added people who want to wear masks as an extra precaution can make them out of household items.

”Simple things, not complicated,” said Tam. “If you can get a cotton material like a t-shirt, you cut up, fold it, (and) put elastic bands around it. Those are the kind of facial coverings we’re talking about.”

Some Manitobans have been pulling out the needle and thread to craft homemade face masks.

Grace Webb, the creator of the Facebook page Face Masks for Manitoba, said she got the idea to sew masks and donate them after reading a U.S. article.

She said the idea snowballed and she started the Facebook group so other mask makers could join her.

“From there it became apparent that people wanted to do this but didn’t have material,” said Webb. “So I thought, why don’t we (build) a kit we can send to people with everything they need to make mask.”

Webb said she’s donating the masks to care homes and people in the community.

Each mask comes with instructions on how to clean them properly, along with a reminder to practice social distancing and wash your hands frequently.

Dr. Brent Roussin, chief public health officer for Manitoba said wearing a non-surgical mask is like coughing into your sleeve.

He said he doesn’t want this information about homemade masks to distract from the most important message.

“If you were staying home before, stay home now,” said Roussin. “Don’t go out now because somebody has said we can use cloth or non medical masks.”

Webb said she’ll continue to sew homemade masks as long as there’s a need.

“I hope it gives them some comfort and a little bit more security,” Said Webb. “I would love to say that we did something to help slow the spread.”

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Erie County offers information on public face masks – Niagara Frontier Publications



Mon, Apr 6th 2020 08:50 pm

The Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH) is making the following announcements.

COVID-19 Data Update

As of 5 p.m. Monday, we have received reports of 1,148 total positive lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases in Erie County residents. Of that, 30 Erie County residents have died, and 206 people have recovered. There are currently 912 people in isolation.

We reported 1,149 cases during our live video today. Through our contact tracing process, we discovered that one of those cases is outside Erie County. Our total is 1,148.

Online Case Map

The Erie County Online COVID-19 case mapping tool has been updated with a ZIP code layer. Access this map at

Cloth Face Coverings

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended cloth face coverings (masks) for individuals when spending time in public spaces, like stores, where keeping a six-foot distance from others is not easy or possible. These coverings should:

  • Fit snugly, but comfortably against the side of the face
  • Be secured with ties or ear loops
  • Include multiple layers of fabric
  • Allow for breathing without restriction
  • Be able to be laundered and machine-dried without damage or change to shape

Most people will be able to make these from materials around their home. There are no-sew methods described in detail on the CDC website:

If someone is ill with respiratory symptoms, they should wear a cloth covering over the nose and mouth when around other people or in public spaces. Masks can also help people avoid touching their faces – which is another way to reduce the risk of infection.

An important note from CDC: Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.

Cloth face coverings are a risk reduction tool and should be used along with frequent hand washing, good respiratory etiquette and cleaning/disinfection of frequently touched surfaces.

Age and Gender Information

The following are tables that reflect the age and gender distribution for cases up to and including April 6.

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