News of the coronavirus has made its rounds all across Canada, but as far as B.C. and the Fraser Valley is concerned, the disease poses little danger.
The B.C. Centre for Disease Control (CDC) reported last Tuesday that the risk to B.C. and Canada as a whole is considered low when it comes to novel coronavirus, otherwise known as coronavirus or 2019-nCOV. As of press time, there is one confirmed case of the virus in the province; a male in his 40s, isolated and at home, according to a Tuesday joint statement from Minister of Health Adrian Dix and B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. The patient traveled regularly to China and was recently in Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak beginning in December.
They said the patient followed instructions issued by health authorities and notified his health care provider when symptoms surfaced.
“The risk of spread of this virus within British Columbia remains low at this time,” the statement added. “We have multiple systems in place to prepare for, detect and respond in order to prevent the spread of serious infectious diseases in the province.”
One other case has been confirmed out of Ontario with a second presumptive case in the province not yet confirmed. On Wednesday, laboratory results came back for a third confirmed case of novel coronavirus, this time hitting Winnipeg.
“The BC Centre for Disease Control and provincial and federal authorities are monitoring the situation closely,” the CDC said in a statement.
“We know our colleagues in Ontario will continue to work with their local health officials and the federal health authorities to ensure every measure is taken to prevent the spread of the virus,” said Dix and Henry in a recent joint statement late last week.
Novel Coronavirus is part of a larger coronavirus family. The common cold is among this family, as is severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), which, according to the CDC, spread across nearly 30 countries from February to July 2003. SARS was responsible for 8,096 infections with 774 deaths worldwide.
There are a total of nearly 3,000 cases of coronavirus across the world, according to the latest report from the B.C. CDC. Of that number, 2,846 were reported to be from China with 42 more outside of China. Of the 11, 10 cases had a history of traveling to Wuhan. As of the latest report, 81 people have died of coronavirus, all from regions of China and Hong Kong.
From the initial breakout in Wuhan, health officials in Japan, Taiwan, the United States,South Korea and Thailand have all reported cases of coronavirus.
The symptoms of coronavirus are commonplace in a number of conditions – fever, coughing, dry cough, sore throat and a headache. While most cases stop there, some severe cases of coronavirus can also cause shortness of breath and pneumonia in the lungs.
“Anyone who is concerned they may have been exposed to or are experiencing symptoms of the novel coronavirus, particularly if you have traveled to areas of China where tie virus is active…should contact their health care provider, local public health office or call 811,” the Dix/Henry joint statement said.
The B.C. CDC has yet to determine how easy it is to transfer the virus from person to person. However, the statement continued, most respiratory viruses tend to spread through touching something an infected person has touched and then touching the face, specifically the eyes, mouth or nose. The coronavirus has also been linked with live animals at the seafood market in Wuhan, but more recent findings indicate animal or market exposure was not a factor in contracting the disease in some cases. Some coronavirus cases have also been reported in health care workers as well.
Those who have been traveling and experience the symptoms should see their health care providers and notify them of the problems and of their recent travel.
The Public Health Agency of Canada issued a travel health notice to those traveling to and from China, specifically those heading to Wuhan. The notice asks travelers to wash their hands frequently, avoid contact with live animals at farms and markets particularly in Wuhan, avoid eating raw meats and avoid surfaces with any kind of animal secretions including blood and feces.
For the latest updates on the disease within B.C., check the B.C. CDC website at www.bccdc.ca.
The Canadian Press contributed to this report.