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Could the new coronavirus in China spread to Canada? – Newstalk 1010 (iHeartRadio)



A Chinese woman in Thailand has become the first person outside China diagnosed with a coronavirus that has affected more than 40 people in the country—raising concerns about whether the illness can be spread to other parts of the world.

Airport officials in an airport in Phuket, Thailand began using a thermoscanner on passengers coming from Wuhan, China earlier this month.

Anyone with a temperature over 38 degrees Celsius was taken to hospital.

The 61-year-old woman was one of those passengers. According to the World Health Organization, she was suffering from flu-like symptoms including fever, chills and a sore throat and was travelling with several family members in a tour group of 16 people.

While she told authorities she did visit a local fresh market, she did not go to the Huanan South China Seafood Market, which has been connected to most of the other cases of the novel coronavirus.

The woman is in quarantine and under observation in hospital.

Flight patterns between Wuhan and other parts of the world are the subject of a new study in the Journal of Travel Medicine. Public health infrastructure, disease dynamics and political factors were analyzed and used to rank various cities on an Infectious Disease Vulnerability Index (IDVI).

Dr. Isaac Boguch, one of the co-authors and an infectious diseases specialist with the University Health Network, says major cities like Bangkok, Tokyo and Seoul rank high on the index.

But should Canada worry?

“People can travel from any point on the planet to any other point on the planet in about 24 hours. Certainly people can travel from Wuhan China to Canada. I think the risk is really low, but it’s certainly not zero per cent,” Boguch said.

For Canadians, concerns are likely to be heightened by experiences with the Severe Acute Respitaroy Syndrome virus (SARS) SARS, which claimed hundreds of lives around the world in 2002, including 44 in Canada. SARS also originated in China.

But Dr. Michael Gardam, Chief of Staff at Humber River Hospital, says the world is very different in 2020.

“First of all, our lab technology has become a lot more sophisticated, so we’re much better and quicker,” Gardam said. “Also, we do much more detailed surveillance so now the world’s looking for these things all over the place.”

Boguch also points to the speed and openness of Chinese health officials with the new coronavirus, saying the genome for the virus was shared with the world in a matter of days at the start of January.

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B.C.'s new coronavirus case is woman who recently returned from Iran – CTV News



Another person in British Columbia has tested positive for the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19, provincial health officials announced Thursday.

The case is a “presumptive positive” and a sample has been sent to the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg for confirmation.

Minister of Health Adrian Dix and Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced the case to reporters at the provincial legislature a day earlier than their regularly scheduled update on the virus.

The case is a woman in her 30s who resides in the Fraser Health region, Henry said. The woman recently returned from travel to Iran and has a milder form of the disease, Henry said.

The province’s top doctor said Fraser Health has already begun investigating the woman’s close contacts and placed a number of the people she’s been in close proximity to in isolation.

“We’ll be doing a detailed investigation of her travel, when her symptoms started, and determine whether we need to investigate or notify people who were on the aircraft she returned in,” Henry said.

The new case brings the total number recorded in British Columbia to six. On Wednesday, the province announced that the first person in B.C. to contract the virus had recovered.

Henry said the provincial government still believes the risk to British Columbians from the COVID-19 is low.

“I think this reflects that we have a very robust system for picking up people who may have this virus,” Henry said. “This one, clearly, is a bit unusual in that the travel to Iran is something new.”

Iran recently began reporting cases of the virus, Henry said. She said provincial health officials will be working with Canadian and international health organizations to determine where the woman contracted the virus.  

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WHO says no time for complacency as China coronavirus cases fall – Reuters



GENEVA/LONDON (Reuters) – A continued decline in the number of new cases of coronavirus infections in China is encouraging, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday, while warning that infections outside the country could still spread.

FILE PHOTO: Director-General of the WHO Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, attends a news conference on the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in Geneva, Switzerland February 11, 2020. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

“We are encouraged by this trend but this is no time for complacency,” the WHO’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, told a briefing in Geneva.

To date, 25 other countries have reported 1,076 cases to WHO, including five in the latest affected, Iran, he said.

Tedros noted that the total was very low compared with nearly 75,000 inside China, but added: “That may not stay the same for long”.

The mayor of Daegu, South Korea’s fourth-largest city, urged residents to stay indoors after a spike in infections linked to a church congregation.

The latest cases reported by South Korea are from “several distinct clusters”, Oliver Morgan, the WHO’s director of health emergency information and risk assessment, told the briefing.

“So although the number seems quite high, they are mostly linked to known existing outbreaks,” Morgan said.

“That doesn’t signal a particular change in global epidemiology but it does signal that the Korean authorities are following up very closely, very vigorously, on all the new cases and those outbreaks that they have identified.”

Tedros, noting that South Korean authorities have reported a total of 104 confirmed cases, including 22 on Thursday, said: “With measures they can take, which is proportionate to the public health risk they have, I think the number of cases are really manageable.”

He also said that he had contacted 12 leading manufacturers of protective equipment – such as masks, goggles and gowns – to ensure that health workers received supplies first, adding that he had received a “positive signal”.

Chen Xu, China’s ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, said he had discussed such medical shortages with Tedros. “Indeed we need definitely masks and protection units and also respiratory machines,” Chen told a separate news conference.

A WHO-led international mission now in China – which Chen described as a “joint venture” – was visiting several provinces and a stop in the outbreak’s epicenter, Wuhan, a city in Hubei province, was “under consideration”, he said.

“If the experts visit other provinces without going to Wuhan they couldn’t have the first-hand knowledge. While in the meantime, it is really risky to go to Wuhan because of the spread of the virus and because of the quarantine needed afterwards,” Chen said. “I think the picture will be very much clearer in the days to come.”

Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva and Kate Kelland in London; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Jonathan Oatis

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Coquitlam grandmother among Tri-City group to be evacuated from coronavirus cruise ship – The Tri-City News



A group of Tri-City residents are among the 250 Canadians aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which has spent two weeks under quarantine in Japan following the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Margaret Tong, an 85-year-old Coquitlam resident, is one of the travellers who will be returning to Canada Friday on a government-chartered flight but her trip is still far from over. The plane is expected to land in Cornwall, Ont., where passengers will be taken to a hotel and kept in isolation for another 14 days.

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“Thanks for your prayers and good wishes,” Tong said in a WhatsApp message to her son, Brian Tong, Wednesday night. “Passed the Canadian medical screening. Packing to disembark tonight at 9 p.m. Will contact you upon arrival at Cornwall Ontario.”

In an interview with The Tri-City News, Brian Tong said his mom left Vancouver Jan. 18 and was supposed to be home within two weeks. He said information was limited but thankfully his mother had the internet and was able to communicate with him throughout the ordeal.

“The [Japanese] government was very slow in decision making on what to do,” he said, noting his mother was traveling with a group of people from the area, “so it was many days of uncertainty while the head count of the infected kept rising.”

The good news is that Margaret Tong has been tested and does not appear to have been affected by the virus, her son said. Thermometers were handed out on the ship and anyone who registered a temperature of 37.5 C or higher was asked to go to the medical centre, he said.

“She was always below 36.5,” he said.

Despite the upheaval, Brian Tong added that he “wasn’t too worried” about his mother, who is active, works out regularly at Coquitlam’s City Centre Aquatic Complex and has a strong immune system.

“Of the people affected, there have been very few fatalities,” Brian Tong told The Tri-City News, adding, “My mother goes to the gym six times a week.”

His bigger concern is getting his mom her medication, which she was running short of during the quarantine period.

“I told her that the Japanese government is responsible for them and they have to top up whoever needs medication,” he said. “They were able to do that.”

The chartered Canadian flight was expected to take off from Japan at 3:30 a.m local time and land at CFB Trenton at around 1:30 a.m. EST Friday.

There, further screening will be conducted and another two-week quarantine will be imposed. But federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu said there is a chance those who test negative for the virus and show no signs of symptoms may be released from quarantine early under the discretion of Canada’s top public-health doctor.

Forty-seven of the 250 Canadians will not be on the flight, after testing positive for the virus. They will continue their treatment in Japan.

Two people have died aboard the ship; a man and a woman, both from Japan and in their 80s, were believed to have been infected before the quarantine began, according to Japanese health officials.

– with files from the Canadian Press

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