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2 people tested, but new coronavirus not in Manitoba: health minister

Coronavirus outbreak: Two patients in Manitoba tested and cleared of new coronavirus
Manitoba’s Health Minister Cameron Friesen said Tuesday that two patients with “uncertain travel histories” were tested for the new coronavirus, which has killed more than 100 people in China, but that results were negative.

There are currently no cases of the new coronavirus in Manitoba, although two people were tested out of “an abundance of caution,” the provincial health minister said on Tuesday.

Health Minister Cameron Friesen, along with Dr. Brent Roussin, chief provincial public health officer, said two patients who had symptoms and had recently travelled were tested and found not to have the new coronavirus but, rather, the common cold.

Toronto has one confirmed case and one presumptive case, while B.C. has also reported one presumptive case.

READ MORE: What we know about how the new coronavirus is spread

“It’s well-documented that the virus is on the move,” said Friesen. He said public health officials and medical communities have been given extensive preparedness guidelines and updated directions on proper triage should patients self-identify as possibly having the virus.

“We are confident that our efforts will be sufficient and the spread of the virus will not extend to our province,” said Friesen.

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2 people tested, but new coronavirus not in Manitoba: health minister
2 people tested, but new coronavirus not in Manitoba: health minister

The two patients in Toronto recently travelled on a plane from Wuhan, China, which is believed to be the epicentre of the outbreak.

The two people who sat in front of them and the two people behind them were contacted by Ontario health officials, according to Roussin. Those people were not in Manitoba, he added.

Since then, several people who thought they may have been on the flight have contacted the public health office with concerns they may have been exposed.

READ MORE: Coronavirus — How to protect yourself

In those cases, they were urged to see a doctor if they became symptomatic and, in the meantime, to take normal precautions to keep themselves healthy.

“Many of the same things we do to avoid getting a cold can help prevent getting the coronavirus,” said Roussin, such as washing your hands and avoiding contact with those who have colds or other respiratory illnesses.

Friesen said that in the meantime, health officials are working to educate the public and urging them to avoid misinformation being spread through social media.

“People are concerned and people are taking steps to protect themselves; that’s positive,” he said.

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However, some people are “perhaps going too far,” Friesen said, and he wanted people to proceed on “the basis of evidence.”

“Recognize that still the biggest risk to them is seasonal influenza … make sure you’ve got your flu shot,” he said.

How is coronavirus being treated without a cure?
How is coronavirus being treated without a cure?

The virus responsible for the recent outbreak, a new strain of a coronavirus, has created alarm because much about it is still unknown, including how dangerous it is and how easily it spreads between people.

Symptoms of the virus include fever, headache, runny nose, cough and difficulty breathing. Symptoms of the new coronavirus are also common symptoms of influenza.

— With files from Global News’ Laura Hensley