Manitoba’s chief provincial public health officer says a plan is in place and Manitoba Health is ready should a potentially deadly infection make its way to the province.
Dr. Brent Roussin told media Thursday that public health officials are actively monitoring the coronavirus infection that originated in central China earlier this month.
“While the risk to Manitobans is low, health-care providers are asked to be aware of clients with relevant travel histories,” said Roussin, adding that those who head to emergency rooms or their doctors with fever or acute respiratory illness and have travelled to parts of China or been around those who have travelled in the past two weeks will be tested.
If that happens, that person will immediately be placed in a private room alone and put under “contact and droplet precautions,” said Roussin.
That means anyone who treats or visits the person will wear protective equipment to prevent transmission.
The coronavirus, which originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, has already killed 17 and infected a confirmed 555 others around the world with pneumonia-like symptoms.
Manitoba is considered low risk at the moment because the province has no direct flights to China.
“In Manitoba, we haven’t had any persons under investigations as of yet. There haven’t been any cases in Canada as of yet,” said Roussin.
Should a person be suspected of carrying the virus, all nurses and doctors must report the possibility to Manitoba Public Health, he added.
Irene Cara: ‘Fame’ and ‘Flashdance’ star dies at 63
More than 4,000 children’s educational toys recalled over possible lead contamination
When asked by Global News if local hospitals could handle an outbreak when emergency rooms are already crowded due to this season’s strains of influenza A and B and other respiratory illnesses, Roussin reassured the public.
“We already have a provincewide preparedness plan for this. All health-care providers are aware” of what they need to do and what the symptoms are, he said.
Low risk for now
All of Canada is considered low risk for coronavirus infection, but things could change quickly, experts say.
According to Dr. Kamran Khan, one of the reasons why assessing Canada’s risk level remains difficult is because there are no non-stop flights from Wuhan, China to Canada.
Khan, who is an infectious disease physician and founder and CEO of global disease tracker BlueDot, was able to alert global health authorities to its spread once he first detected the virus in late December.
But with the U.S. confirming its first infection in Washington state Tuesday, Khan said the disease is now turning into an outbreak with global reach.
— With files from Global News’ David Lao