Quebec Health Minister Danielle McCann wants to put the public’s mind at ease and vows that the province is closely following the outbreak of a new coronavirus that has killed six people in China.
“I want to reassure Quebecers that we are following the situation on an hourly basis,” she said on Tuesday at the National Assembly in Quebec City.
The move comes as countries around the globe ramp up their response to the virus, which was first reported in late December in Wuhan, a city in central China. There have been more than 300 identified cases as of Jan. 21 in China, Thailand, Japan and South Korea.
The Quebec government is working closely with the Public Health Agency of Canada and the health ministry is “very aware” of the unfolding situation, according to McCann.
“We are in contact with them continuously,” said McCann.
Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief medical officer, said on Monday that signs will be placed at airports in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver in the coming days. Electronic kiosks at Customs will also ask travellers if they have been to areas where coronavirus is and if they have flu-like symptoms.
The symptoms of the new virus include fever and tight chest. Some people could experience difficulty breathing.
McCann said Quebecers should take the same precautions they would if they have a cold or flu.
“They should wear masks, they should wash their hands. That’s very basic precaution,” she said. “When they come back, they should declare if they have symptoms.”
The World Health Organization will meet on Wednesday in an emergency committee meeting to discuss the outbreak and determine if it is a public health emergency.
If the WHO declares a public health emergency of international concern, it can recommend measures that should be taken within the country or other countries to reduce the virus spreading.
The province is waiting to see what comes of the crucial meeting before it takes any measures, according to McCann.
— With files from Global News’ Raquel Fletcher, Leslie Young and the Canadian PressView link »