The Quebec government says the situation in the province is under control after the World Health Organization declared a public health emergency of international concern over the new coronavirus.
“Our measures remain the same,” said Health Minister Danielle McCann on Thursday afternoon.
The province is repatriating Quebecers who work at provincial offices in China. McCann said the evacuations are being done on a voluntary basis.
Public health officials are also asking the public to remain calm amid concerns about the virus, saying potential cases in Quebec have so far been ruled out.
“I want to let you know there are no confirmed cases at this moment,” Dr. Horacio Arruda, Quebec’s director of public health, said on Thursday. “Nobody is under investigation as of right now. That doesn’t mean there won’t be one tonight or tomorrow.”
The virus, which originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late December, has led to 170 deaths as of Thursday morning.
The Canadian government announced on Wednesday that it is preparing to evacuate citizens from Chinese cities hit hard by the virus. Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne said the government has a plane ready to go to help bring Canadians home.
Air Canada and several other airlines have cancelled flights to China, following an advisory from the Canadian government to avoid all non-essential travel to the country.
The Quebec government has been keeping a close eye on the outbreak. In the past week, several potential cases of the new coronavirus have been ruled out among patients under observation in the province, according to Arruda.
Arruda said he understands why Quebecers are concerned but that they don’t have to worry. Fear is a “bad epidemic,” he added.
“We have nothing to hide from the population,” said Arruda.
However, health officials are prepared if the new virus makes its way to Quebec, he added. He said the risk of transmission is very low for the area.
Travellers who have visited affected areas in China and experience symptoms of the new virus — which include coughing, fever and shortness of breath — are asked to contact Info-Santé at 811 to be evaluated.
The best way to prevent the spread of symptoms, according to Arruda, is to take the same precautions as a cold. This includes handwashing and covering your mouth when you cough.
— With files from the Associated PressView link »