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Albertans returning from Iran being asked to self-isolate amid coronavirus concerns

Click to play video 'Alberta adds more preventative measures against coronavirus' Alberta adds more preventative measures against coronavirus
WATCH (Feb. 26): More than 81,000 people have been infected with new coronavirus around the world. Steps are being taken on a global scale to try and slow the spread. Alberta, too, is adding more preventative measures. Julia Wong reports – Feb 26, 2020

Alberta is adding another preventative measure in hopes of curbing the spread of the coronavirus.

On Monday, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw announced Albertans who have travelled to Iran in the last 14 days should voluntarily isolate themselves for two weeks even if they are feeling well.

READ MORE: Alberta premier says frustrating coronavirus stifling oil and gas economy

Previously, those who had returned from Iran were only being asked to monitor themselves for symptoms and only travellers to the Hubei province in China were being told to self-isolate.

Hinshaw said the decision to add this measure was not taken lightly and made in collaboration with the Public Health Agency of Canada and other provinces and territories.

“It was driven in part because most of the most recent cases in Canada have been identified in returning travellers from Iran.

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“And also, as we see the situation in Iran unfold, we are concerned there is community spread at a quite high rate in that country,” she said.

Hinshaw said those travellers can call Healthlink at 811 for more information.

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Travellers from mainland China, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Japan were previously asked to monitor themselves for symptoms and self-isolate if they begin to feel any.

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READ MORE: Alberta officials expand list of countries for coronavirus testing protocols

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Hinshaw said there are no confirmed or probable cases in the province and said the risk of the coronavirus remains low at this time.

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However, she cautioned that it is only a matter of when the virus will arrive, not if.

“With increasing spread around the world, it is even more likely we will eventually see cases in Alberta,” she said.

Hinshaw said the province is closely monitoring the recent deaths in Washington State and looking at the possibility of expanding testing in the future.

Other tips on how Albertans can protect themselves from the virus:

  • Check travel advisories before traveling abroad
  • Regular handwashing
  • Stay home when sick
  • Cover any coughs and sneezes
  • Avoid touching your face with dirty hands
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