coronavirus canada

Canadian health officials prepare for pandemic potential of Coronavirus

As novel coronavirus outbreaks continue to spread and swell out of China's Hubei province and across the globe, health officials have provided the public with an update on what to expect next in Canada.

Canadian Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam stated at a press conference yesterday that COVID-19 has the very real potential of becoming a pandemic, with places like Italy, Iran and South Korea becoming new hotspots for the disease.

Tam said that as the virus continues to prove extremely communicable and hard to contain, residents should be prepared for a Canadian outbreak larger than the 11 cases we've seen so far.

She also noted that due to the virus's rapid spread and incubation period (up to 14 days), it's possible that travellers from countries that haven't confirmed many or any cases at all could still have the illness — as was the situation with the B.C. passenger who contracted the novel coronavirus in Iran before the country had reported its first case.

Some are now calling for flights between Canada and Iran (among others) to be halted as the latter country becomes the second most prominent focal point for the disease after China.

Experts have advised Canadians to stock up on prescription medications, non-perishable food and whatever other essentials one may anticipate needing if they were to fall ill and require isolation for a few weeks.

The public health risk for the virus in Canada is still listed as low, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada, though Tam acknowledged that "the global risk situation is evolving" at a worrisome rate and the "window for containment" of the virus is closing.

At the time of publication, there have been more than 81,000 cases of COVID-19 — an estimated 2,700 or so of them fatal — in at least 40 countries. Nearly 28,000 people have recovered from the illness, and less than 2 per cent of deaths caused by the illness have been outside of mainland China.

Along with Canada's 11 confirmed cases, there are 47 additional Canadians who were aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship who have tested positive for the virus.

The illness, though potentially slightly more fatal than the common flu, is most concerning for the elderly and already immunocompromised, and/or those without access to good health care.

Lead photo by

Frederyk Supinski

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