Coronavirus has been spreading rapidly throughout China. Nearly 450 people have been infected nationwide, with total deaths rising to at least 17, as the mystery disease continues to spread. Three possible cases of coronavirus were ruled out by Canada’s chief public health officer on Monday, Jan. 20.
What unnerves the public in Etobicoke is the possibility of the virus making its way to Canada, especially after a case of coronavirus was reported in the United States. Public services are telling residents of Etobicoke that “the risk to Canadians remains low.”
Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s medical officer of health, told the media on Jan. 7, that Toronto’s health services have a plan for any potential outbreak. “At this point, while there are no cases of this illness reported in Toronto, the city has a well-developed response plan should the situation change,” said de Villa. “In the meantime, we will continue to monitor and work collaboratively with our colleagues at the Public Health Agency of Canada and the province.
“This is a great example of our work behind the scenes to keep our residents healthy, safe and strong,” she added.
Skedline reached out to Toronto Public Health (TPH) to ask if they were changing their approach to coronavirus after the first case was reported in the United States. Lenore Brombly, who works in media relations for TPH, told Skedline that “everything that was mentioned in the [public] statement remains the same.
“The odds of being infected with coronavirus are low. You have a better chance of winning the lottery.”
Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, released the following statement on Ontario’s preparedness. “I want Ontarians to know that their health and well-being is my top concern,” she said in the statement. “While the risks posed by this new coronavirus to Ontarians remain low, the province is actively monitoring and is fully prepared to respond. To date, there have been no confirmed cases in Canada.
“To strengthen the ministry’s ability to monitor any coronavirus cases, our government is adding novel coronavirus as a designated disease reportable under Ontario’s public health legislation. Now, physicians, hospitals and other care facilities will be required to report a suspected or confirmed case of the new coronavirus to their local medical officer of health. The local public health unit can then quickly and effectively take all necessary measures to investigate, complete lab tests and do case, and contact management to prevent and control further spread of the infection.”
Even after the reassurance from public services that everything will be okay, citizens are still concerned.
Niagara Falls resident Tyianne Marie told Skedline that she is worried about the virus spreading to Canada. “I am not thrilled with the news of the virus making it to the U.S.,” said Marie. “Viruses still spread no matter how hard we try to prevent them from spreading. I don’t blame people for being scared.”
Local Torontonian Nicole Busby told Skedline that she is not concerned about the coronavirus. “It’s going to spread here; it’s not as bad as SARS,” said Busby. (SARS, or Severe acute respiratory syndrome, broke out in late 2002, causing an eventual 8,098 cases, resulting in 774 deaths reported in 37 countries.) “I imagine we’ve gotten protocols in place, that’s if an outbreak were to take place.
“As long as we all keep washing our hands and keep them away from our faces when not washed, we should all be fine,” she said.
Twitter users had some more things to say about the coronavirus:
This could possibly be the first major crisis of his presidency
— TweetyWeety (@TweetyThings1) January 22, 2020
— Jack Phan (@JackPhan) January 22, 2020
Airlines in China are planning for the worst as Lunar New Year approaches, Saturday, Jan. 25. The Lunar New Year holiday in China is the world’s largest annual migration of people, with hundreds of millions of travellers making the trek across the country and the world. Planes leaving China are being screened to prevent further spread of the virus. China said it is shutting down transportation from Wuhan, the birthplace of the deadly virus.
Skedline also talked to the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority. Christine Langlois, a spokesperson, said that CATSA is monitoring the developments of the situation. “China is screening passengers flying before they leave to make sure they are not carrying the virus,” Langlois said. “All Canadian airports are being made aware of the developments of the situation.
“CATSA’s priority is to offer the highest levels of security to the travelling public. We are monitoring the coronavirus situation closely, along with our federal partners, airport stakeholders and screening contractors. Our operations are not impacted at this time.”