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Coronavirus Update: February 3, 2020

February 3, 2020

A new respiratory illness called novel coronavirus caused an outbreak of pneumonia. The outbreak originated in Wuhan, China and has been a major point of interest around the globe. Public health officials at all levels of government are working together to monitor the outbreak and conduct testing as necessary.

At present, there are three confirmed cases of Coronavirus in Canada, including two in Toronto and one in British Columbia. All three cases involve people who were recently in China.

Appropriate precautions

While the risk of contracting Coronavirus in Ontario is considered low, the following steps are considered appropriate precautions:

  • The Government of Canada has issued a warning to avoid all non-essential travel to China and all travel to Hubei province, where Wuhan is located. The latest updates on travel to China are available on the Travel Canada web site.
  • Wash hands regularly with soap and warm water, particularly after contact with other people and public places
  • Avoid putting your hands to your face as much as possible and wash hands after doing so
  • Sneeze into your arm if a tissue is unavailable
  • Due to widespread improper use, public health officials advise against wearing masks
  • Know novel coronavirus symptoms, which include: sore throat, coughing, fever and difficulty breathing
  • If you have legitimate reason to believe you have contracted coronavirus and it is not an emergency, contact your doctor’s office or local health care provider for advice on where to go for medical evaluation

According to data available thus far, novel coronavirus symptoms are produced within four days of contracting the virus. Aside from people who are vulnerable due to age or another medical condition or are health care practitioners in close proximity to people with this virus, at four days there is plenty of time to treat the symptoms so they do not escalate to a life-threatening pneumonia.

As with other forums of coronavirus, such as the common cold, there is no cure for novel coronavirus. The following are recommended to assist in recovery:

  • Stay home from work or school
  • Get lots of rest
  • Drink lots of fluids
Public health officials give update on coronavirus
Act vigilantly to stop discrimination

While there are only three cases of confirmed novel coronavirus in Canada there have been many more instances of racism against people who are or are perceived to be Chinese. Incidents have ranged from violent schoolyard bullying to micro-aggressions such as refusing to sit next to someone perceived to be Chinese on the subway. Public health officials say that racism related to an outbreak makes it more difficult to protect the public as people who fear discrimination are less likely to seek the medical attention they require.

Common flu presents greater health risk

Globally, 360 deaths have been attributed to novel coronavirus. Meanwhile, anywhere from 290,000 to 650,000 people have died from the common flu. Aside from travel considerations, the same precautions for novel coronavirus are applicable to protecting yourself from the flu. Additionally, the flu shot is strongly advised for everyone who is medically able to receive it. The flu shot decreases the likelihood of contracting the flu and, if the flu is contracted, to lessen its symptoms. Research shows that there is a compounding benefit to getting the flu shot every year.

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