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EOHU Working With Regional and Provincial Health Authorities to Monitor Novel Coronavirus

2020-01-24

In response to the recent outbreak of a previously unknown pneumonia-like illness in the Wuhan region of China, the Eastern Ontario Health Unit is collaborating with regional, provincial and national health authorities to monitor the evolving situation. The spread of the illness, referred to as 2019 Novel Coronavirus, is ongoing; however, there have been no identified cases to date in Canada. Risk to residents in the EOHU region and across the country is considered low.

“To be cautious, we are continuing to monitor the situation in China and internationally. Although the risk to our region is considered low at this point, we are prepared to respond to any potential cases in our area should they occur,” states Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, Medical Officer of Health at the Eastern Ontario Health Unit.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. They can cause diseases ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV). There is now evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus in China, however, the extent and severity of illness is still not fully known. More information is expected to emerge in the coming days and weeks.

Symptoms of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus are common to a number of respiratory illnesses. Currently, only persons who become ill within 14 days of having visited Wuhan, China or having been in close contact with someone who has a respiratory illness who has been to Wuhan within 14 days prior to their illness onset are considered at risk of infection. Common symptoms of infection include fever, cough and respiratory symptoms such as shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.

Anyone who has recently travelled to China should monitor themselves for respiratory symptoms for 14 days following their return to Canada. Travellers who become ill during or soon after their travels to China should seek medical care. However, they should notify their healthcare provider of their symptoms and their travel history prior to visiting the medical clinic or hospital.

In order to help prevent or limit potential spread of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus in Canada, the federal government has implemented health screening at airports, in addition to its standard measures to prevent the introduction into and spread of communicable diseases in Canada.

The Ontario Ministry of Health has also added the 2019 Novel Coronavirus as a designated disease reportable under Ontario's public health legislation. Physicians, hospitals and other healthcare facilities are now required to report any suspected or confirmed case of the new coronavirus to their local public health unit.

For more information, visit the EOHU’s website at www.eohu.ca, or call 613-933-1375 or 1 800 267-7120. Information and updates are also available at Public Health Agency of Canada, 2019 Novel Coronavirus infection (Wuhan, China): Outbreak update.

Eastern Ontatio Health Unit / Bureau de santé de l'Ontario