THUNDER BAY - The federal minister of health is continuing to assure Canadians that the risk to the public in Canada is low in the wake of the growing number of Coronavirus cases in China.
“What we’ve seen is the stabilization of cases in Canada here,” said Minister of Health, Patty Hajdu. “Not to say we can’t anticipate there might be future cases, but it is an indication that all of our systems are working so well and so collaboratively together that we are able to detect cases and then contain them if they do arise.”
Since the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus in China in late December, more than 63,000 people have been infected and there have been more than 1,300 deaths.
In Canada, seven people have tested positive for the virus, as well as 12 other Canadians who were aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship that is docked in Japan. Three of the 12 people required hospitalization.
“We have global affairs consular services that are working with all the Canadians on that cruise ship,” Hajdu said. “I have also deployed medical professionals to the Japan area on Friday to support both the passengers that are on the ship but also the CDC and the work they are doing to try and get a better sense of the entire situation of passengers that are on that particular ship.”
Earlier this month, more than 400 Canadians in Hubei Province, China, where the city of Wuhan is located, have since returned to Canada and are currently under quarantine in Canadian Forces Base Trenton.
According to Hajdu, the government is not aware of any other Canadians in the area who wish to leave, but she encourages anyone who may be stuck in the region, or any other part of the world, to contact Canadian consular services.
Canada is continuing to assist China by sending medical supplies such as masks and Hajdu said researchers are also taking on a bigger role in investigating the virus itself.
“Canada is leading the World Health Organization research team in China to assess the situation in China, to validate some of the evidence that is emerging around the nature of the disease, and to certainly work with their scientists and the work that is happening around treatment and potentially around vaccines,” she said.
And as with any new virus outbreak, there are also elements of fear, uncertainty, and false information, and Hajdu is reminding Canadians to rely on credible sources and not label people as being a risk.
“I’ve talked a lot about how we have the outbreak that is obviously related to a physical illness with a new virus on the scene, but there’s also the outbreak of fear and the pandemic of fear is a very common partner to pandemics or outbreaks of other illnesses,” she said. “In this case, the Chinese-Canadian community have been targeted as they often were with SARS.”
“We need to remind Canadians that the risk factor for contracting this virus in Canada is a close contact with someone who recently travelled to the region. It is not associated to race at all. Anybody can contract this virus.”
Hajdu added the federal government will continue to work with its provincial counterparts and local health units to provide the most up to date information on the Coronavirus situation.
Canadians looking for more information can visit the Government of Canada website or call 1-833-784-4397.