Lots of misinformation has been spreading about the coronavirus that originated in China. Some of it is conspiracy theory, some of it is fact. Don’t believe any headline you see. Here are the current facts, from reputable sources, about the illness.
The first cases were reported on December 31 in Wuhan, China, where individuals presented with pneumonia-like symptoms. This is when it was discovered that this was a new form of coronavirus not previously identified in humans, which is now being called 2019 Novel Coronavirus (not originating from the Mexican beer of similar name).
Few cases in Canada
In total, about 8,000 cases have been identified to date, with 170 deaths, mostly occurring in China where it originated.
The first case in Canada was confirmed on January 25 as a man in Ontario. He had travelled to the city of Wuhan 14 days before his symptoms presented. Two days later, it was also confirmed that his wife was infected. He was discharged and is asymptomatic as January 31 but his wife is being quarantined to their home to avoid spreading the illness, as per proper precautions.
The third case was identified on January 28 in an individual who also had been in Wuhan 14 days before becoming ill.
The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the illness an international emergency on January 30, with 21 countries identifying citizens who have contracted the virus so far, including Canada, the U.S., and the U.K. The committee made this decision in hopes that the illness’ spread can be stopped before it reaches countries with less-developed healthcare systems.
Symptoms of this illness so far have included fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. If anyone has experienced these symptoms, AND has travelled to the Hubei province of China, or has been in close contact with someone who has, they should immediately report to a healthcare professional, and avoid contact with others.
Risk is low
Though this illness appears frightening, there are only three cases identified so far in all of Canada, and all had been in the city where the illness originated or were in direct contact with someone who was. The Public Health Agency of Canada has assessed the risk to Canadians as being low for both Canada and Canadian travelers and continues to reassess as more information becomes available.
To make sure you’re getting factual updates on this illness and not spreading misinformation, visit credible sites such as the Public Health Agency of Ontario, the Public Health Agency of Canada, and the WHO.
If Canadians should be concerned about an actual serious health risk to them, it’s the flu. It causes 12,000 hospitalizations per year and kills 3500, making it one of the top 10 leading causes of death in Canada. So, if you’re worried about getting sick this year, think first about getting your flu shot!