People pass by a poster warming about a new coronavirus at Suseo Station in Seoul, South Korea, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

VIDEO: Mass coronavirus quarantines seen in China won’t happen in Canada, authorities say

‘If a case comes here, and it is probably … it will still be business as normal’

Canadians have no need to worry about the prospect of mass quarantines, even in the likely event the coronavirus is discovered here, public health authorities said on Friday.

They said scary images coming from a now isolated Wuhan, a Chinese city with 11 million people, will not be repeated here.

“Absolutely not,” Dr. Peter Donnelly, with Public Health Ontario, said. “If a case comes here, and it is probably likely that we will have a case here, it will still be business as normal.”

In addition to Wuhan, where the virus outbreak has been concentrated, China has shut transportation in at least 12 other cities home to more than 36 million people. Bustling streets, malls and other public spaces have turned eerily quiet, masks are mandatory in public, and some hospitals have run low on medical supplies.

Toronto’s medical officer of health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, urged people to consult credible information sources on the outbreak. Good places include websites of the Public Health Agency of Canada, Public Health Ontario and Toronto Public Health, she said.

“I ask members of the public to rely on evidence-informed, credible sources of information when you’re looking for updates,” de Villa said.

So far, the coronavirus is reported to have killed more than two dozen people and made hundreds of others ill. Symptoms can mirror those of the cold and flu, including cough, fever, chest tightening and shortness of breath, but can worsen to pneumonia.

While no cases have been reported in Canada, concerns about the virus have stirred memories of the SARS outbreak in 2003 that killed 44 Canadians and saw Toronto turn temporarily into something of an international pariah after the World Health Organization issued a travel advisory warning people to avoid the city.

Donnelly said the situation is now very different from what it was then. Authorities, he said, are much better prepared than they were for SARS: Communications are more robust, hospitals have better isolation facilities, and a reliable test is available to detect the coronavirus within 24 hours.

“This was a disease unknown to science only two weeks ago and we now have the full genetic fingerprint of the virus and we have a test, which is specific and reliable,” Donnelly said. “In situations like this, speed and certainty are both very important.”

Health officials were also working with the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg to develop an even quicker test.

The federal government has beefed up measures at major airports in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal.

READ MORE: ‘I would not go’ to China says B.C. traveller concerned about coronavirus

Visitors are now being asked about any travel to Wuhan in the past 14 days and a positive response would trigger further investigation.

While the World Health Organization has decided for now against declaring the outbreak a global emergency, Donnelly said public health authorities were still working to ensure any cases here are dealt with effectively.

Canada’s chief medical officer has said the chances of a outbreak here were low. Health officials note the common cold comes from the same family as the latest coronavirus and that influenza virus kills thousands of Canadians every year.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Surrey RCMP looking to identify Fleetwood robbery suspect

Alleged incident happened in the 15900-block of Fraser Highway, police say

PHOTOS: Sold-out Surrey party raises $1.35M in ‘Celebration of Care’ at hospital

Hollywood-style event attracted close to 700 people to Aria Convention Centre

Naked driver leads Langley, Surrey RCMP on hit and run spree

A Kelowna man has been charged with numerous offences

Surrey reduces cab business licence fees to match ride-hailing industry

Meantime, Surrey Board of Trade petition asks government to remove ‘archaic’ taxi boundaries

New book rounds up stories about landmark Surrey diner

Springenatic family marks 60 years of Round Up Café ownership

VIDEO: Feds warned agricultural sector near ‘tipping point’ due to blockades

Canadian Federation of Agriculture points to lack of propane and feed due to Coastal GasLink dispute

Six Wet’suwet’en supporters arrested during blockade of Vancouver port: police

This latest blockade had gone on for nearly 24 hours in support of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs

‘Intemperate, insulting’: B.C. teacher reprimanded for online comments about religion

John William Yetman made the comments in response to a Facebook invitation to Open Mosque Day B.C.

High-risk sex offender, who triggered protests in Fraser Valley, back in court

Chilliwack residents wanted James Conway gone from residential neighbourhood two years ago

B.C. terminates contract with hospice society refusing assisted death

Delta Hospice Society loses hospital service fund of $1.5 million

UPDATE: 14 arrested at blocked rail line in northern B.C., police say

But a Gitxsan hereditary chief says 14 were arrested, as fight over natural gas pipeline continues

Hospital parking fees needed, but changes to payment system possible, health minister says

B.C. health minister Adrian Dix says hospital parking doesn’t need to be so stressful

Protecting privacy key to stopping spread of COVID-19, B.C. health officials say

The number of coronavirus cases in B.C. remains at seven

Most Read