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Doctor on front lines of SARS outbreak says Canadian hospitals prepared for coronavirus – Global News

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After two days of emergency committee meetings to decide whether to declare a public health emergency over a new coronavirus from China, the World Health Organization (WHO) has concluded that it’s too early.

The coronavirus, which emerged sometime in December 2019, has drawn comparison to the 2003 outbreak of SARS.

Dr. Michael Gardam, chief of staff at Humber River Hospital and an infection control specialist, dealt with the SARS outbreak.

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The disease affected 26 countries and infected more than 8,000 individuals, according to the WHO.


READ MORE:
Travel sector feeling hit of coronavirus, but impact so far falls short of SARS

With the coronavirus, 17 years later, more than 600 people have been infected, the majority of whom are from China.

At least 17 people have died as of last count.

Gardam told Global News that at this point, the risk the coronavirus presents to Canadians is “absolutely negligible.”

“If there’s any country in the world that’s as prepared as it’s going to be, it’s this one,” he said.






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A background on the coronavirus and its symptoms


A background on the coronavirus and its symptoms

He believes that even with a WHO emergency declaration, there would be little to no impact on Canadian hospitals.

Coronavirus cases have already been reported in China, Thailand, Japan, Taiwan and the United States. There have been no confirmed cases in Canada so far.

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But Gardam says if any cases are reported, hospitals in Canada will be ready.

“Canadian hospitals learned a great deal from SARS, and then we learned more from H1N1 in 2009, and then we learned more after the Ebola scare a few years ago,” said Gardam.

A viral respiratory illness, SARS infected more than 430 Canadians and resulted in 44 deaths in Toronto alone.

“Our experience with SARS was that it’s not great to make stuff up as you go along,” the doctor explained.

“We didn’t know what the virus was, we didn’t have a test for it. We didn’t focus on handwashing in hospitals, which is all you hear about over the last decade; we didn’t have stockpiles of personal protective equipment (PPE).

“We didn’t screen people for fevers.”


READ MORE:
Quarantining a Canadian city over coronavirus would be illegal: experts

A number of measures, including keeping PPE on hand, have since been implemented. When asked for some preventative measures, Gardam offered handwashing and staying home from work or school if you are sick as examples.

And while many have placed their faith in face masks as a form of prevention, he cautioned there are multiple ways the coronavirus can be transmitted.

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“Viruses can also infect you through your eyes, you can get it on your hand and then rub your eye and get infected that way,” he said.

“If you’ve got somebody who’s sick and coughing, wearing a mask can actually prevent you from spraying stuff on other people.

“We use them a lot in the hospital because we’re around people who are actively infectious right now.”

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Sudden Death of Polar Bear Leads to Closure of Wild Canada Exhibit at Calgary Zoo

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The Wild Canada exhibit at the Wilder Institute Calgary Zoo was temporarily closed on Friday following the sudden death of one of its polar bears, Baffin. Jamie Dorgan, the interim CEO and COO of the zoo, announced the closure during a press conference, revealing that the incident occurred unexpectedly during a routine display of sparring between Baffin and another polar bear, Siku.

The incident unfolded around 11:30 a.m. on Friday when the two bears were seen engaging in typical sparring behavior in the lower pool of their habitat. Concern arose when Baffin failed to resurface, prompting a volunteer to alert the animal care team. Despite prompt action to remove Baffin from the pool, he was pronounced dead. Dorgan noted, “We removed him pretty quickly … outwardly there’s nothing obvious,” indicating that the cause of death was not immediately apparent.

A necropsy, which is an autopsy for animals, is scheduled to be performed by the zoo’s veterinary team to determine the precise cause of Baffin’s death. “We don’t know why the bear died,” Dorgan stated, emphasizing that all potential explanations are being explored to understand the sudden loss.

Baffin, along with Siku, had been relocated from Winnipeg’s Assiniboine Park Zoo to the Calgary Zoo in October 2023 as part of efforts to enhance the polar bear habitat and conservation efforts at the facility. The Calgary Zoo, a prominent institution home to over 4,000 animals from various parts of the world, recently underwent a $31 million expansion, which included improvements to the polar bear habitat.

The zoo has expressed its commitment to transparency and thorough investigation into the incident. The outcome of the necropsy will provide crucial insights into potential preventive measures and ensure the well-being of the remaining polar bear, Siku, and other zoo inhabitants.

The Wild Canada exhibit will remain closed until further notice as the zoo community mourns the loss and awaits conclusive results from the ongoing investigation.

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15-year-old ATV driver dies in collision on New Brunswick highway

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A 15-year-old driver of an all-terrain vehicle has died after a collision on a Moncton, N.B., highway.

The RCMP say they responded to a report of a crash between a parked vehicle and an ATV on Highway 2 on Thursday afternoon.

Police say they believe the 15-year-old boy was driving on the shoulder of the highway when he collided with the parked vehicle.

The teenager, who was the sole occupant of the ATV, was taken to hospital with life-threatening injuries and died the following day.

Police say the three people in the other vehicle were not injured.

RCMP did not release details of the speed the boy was driving at the time of the crash.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 19, 2024.

The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.



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Woman found dead in suitcase in Newfoundland; spouse found dead, suspected in killing

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ST. JOHN’S, N.L. – Police in St. John’s, N.L., say a woman’s body was found in a suitcase in the city’s downtown this week and her spouse — who was found dead a day prior — is suspected of killing her.

Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Const. James Cadigan says the 33-year-old Iranian woman’s body was discovered Tuesday night in a suitcase in a vacant lot. He says it had been placed in the area six days before.

Cadigan says her 34-year-old Iranian husband was found dead in his home on Monday.

He says police have not determined whether their deaths involve a murder-suicide, and he says the two “had no involvement” with the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary prior to the discovery of their bodies.

Cadigan says the woman arrived in Newfoundland on May 15 and the man had been living in downtown St. John’s for several years.

Police are not releasing their names to protect their family’s privacy, and are looking for any information from the public about what happened.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 19, 2024.

The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.



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