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Canada Montreal hospitals on heightened alert following coronavirus warning

20:25  21 january  2020
20:25  21 january  2020 Source:   montrealgazette.com

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a group of people on a sidewalk: A girl wears a protective mask at Beijing Railway station before the annual Spring Festival Jan. 21, 2020 in Beijing, China. The number of cases of a deadly new coronavirus rose to nearly 300 in mainland China.© Kevin Frayer A girl wears a protective mask at Beijing Railway station before the annual Spring Festival Jan. 21, 2020 in Beijing, China. The number of cases of a deadly new coronavirus rose to nearly 300 in mainland China.

Montreal hospitals are on heightened alert after the city’s public-health department issued “a call for vigilance” Monday concerning a new coronavirus — considered a cousin of the SARS virus — that has infected more than 200 people since an outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December.

The World Health Organization has been monitoring the spread of the virus closely and is considering whether to declare an international public health emergency over the 2019-nCoV virus. The WHO has confirmed two deaths from the virus, while Chinese authorities have reported that six people have died.

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Canadian authorities have not detected anyone returning from Asia with the virus, but are bracing for the possibility. In Montreal, medical staff have been instructed to ask anyone turning up in emergency rooms with flu-like symptoms whether they have traveled to China.

“It’s good to remain cautious to make sure we can curtail this virus before it spreads more than it has already spread in China,” Dr. Caroline Quach , in charge of infection control and at Ste-Justine Hospital, told the Montreal Gazette on Tuesday.

“Whenever someone has a runny nose and a cough, regardless of the etiology (cause), we isolate the patient as a precaution. What all the hospitals have added on top of this now is we make sure that when we triage a patient in the ER, we ask them if they were traveling in the past two weeks, and if people are coming from that area in China, we’re going to isolate them right away, ask them to wear a mask, so that they don’t transmit it to others.”

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The McGill University Health Centre is taking the same precautions, Dr. Charles Frenette said.

“Our process is already in place to screen travelers returning from China with respiratory-tract infections. Right now we’re in the middle of influenza season and we’re seeing a lot of respiratory-tract infections, and our (internal) audits show that we’re pretty good at identifying those patients rapidly.”

Air Canada has daily flights from Shanghai to Montreal. Marie-Claude Desgagnés, a spokesperson for Aéroports de Montréal, referred all questions to Health Canada. She said she didn’t know whether Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport has equipment in place to detect whether returning travelers have high body temperatures, as is the case with airports in China.

On Monday, Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said the government is increasing signage at airports in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal that ask travelers from Wuhan to advise customs agents whether they are suffering from any flu-like symptoms.

Coronavirus: Five Quebecers under hospital observation

  Coronavirus: Five Quebecers under hospital observation Quebec’ s chief public health officer revealed Wednesday that five people in the province who travelled recently to China are under hospital observation for possible exposure to the new coronavirus that is spreading through Asia. However, Dr. Horacio Arruda emphasized this does not mean that any of the five individuals have, in fact, contracted the 2019-nCoV virus that has been blamed for the deaths of 17 people in Wuhan, China.

Quach added that Quebec’s public-health lab is able to diagnose the virus, whose genetic sequence is already known.

“Because we don’t have any pre-existing immunity to this brand new virus, there’s always a risk of more severe complications,” she explained.

Coronaviruses are part of a large group of viruses that circulate among animals. In rare cases, they can make the leap to humans, and become transmissible among people. The new Chinese coronavirus can cause pneumonia and doesn’t respond to antibiotics.

The outbreak in China has rekindled memories of SARS, which also originated in that country and killed 774 people in the early 2000s. That virus caused an outbreak in Toronto, infecting nearly 300 people.

This story will be updated.

aderfel@postmedia.com

twitter.com/Aaron_Derfel

Some Ontario universities, colleges warn of fake coronavirus alerts circulating online .
Ryerson University, McMaster University, and Durham College staff all advised they were aware of fake Coronavirus reports circulating.“Ryerson University is aware that there are fake social media posts alleging that students have been admitted to hospital with the coronavirus today. There are no cases of coronavirus at Ryerson,” the university tweeted on Monday, referencing an image circulating online that claims that two students have tested positive for the virus.

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