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

Social media a blessing and a curse during time of crisis: B.C. communication expert

‘In moments of crisis, fear is very real and palpable,’ says SFU’s Peter Chow-White

B.C. COVID-19 contact restrictions working, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

’Not out of the woods yet’ as next two weeks are critical

UPDATED: Some states of local emergency suspended by ministerial order

Suspension applies to regional districts but not First Nations

A letter from Bella Coola doctors on COVID-19: ‘All our lives depend on your actions now’

“None of us are invincible; we can all get it and spread it without even knowing.”

COVID-19: Bella Coola RCMP close detachment front door access

The public is being asked to call 250 799 5363 for assistance

B.C. records first at-home death from COVID-19, but 70+ hospital patients have recovered

Total of 970 novel coronavirus cases in B.C., with the majority in the Lower Mainland area

BC Ferries able to restrict travel for sick passengers

Ferries working on schedule shifts to keep workers safe

Canada expands 75% wage subsidy to COVID-19 affected businesses of all sizes: Trudeau

Program will provide up to $847 per week for each worker

Pay parking suspended at B.C. hospitals due to COVID-19

Temporary free parking reduces need for keypads, contact

Helping those at risk, one piece of paper at a time through ‘isolation communication’

Simple paper tool during pandemic making its way across Canada thanks to social media.

‘Back to school, in a virtual way’ for B.C. students in COVID-19 pandemic

Province adds online resources to help parents at home

Canadian COVID-19 round-up: Air Canada cuts 15,000 jobs, 90% of flights

Comprehensive Canadian news update as of 2:30 p.m., Monday, March 30.

Canadian ferry operators call for inclusion in COVID-19 travel restrictions

Domestic travel restrictions should include ferries, operators say

Most Read