British Columbia and Quebec testing and monitoring suspected coronavirus cases

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      While Canadian health officials have issued a high-alert for a flu-like virus spreading from China, several suspected cases are now being investigated in British Columbia and Quebec.

      CTV News reported today (January 22) that the B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) is testing several British Columbians for possible infection of the new coronavirus, also known as 2019-nCoV. However, the number of cases being monitored was not specified. 

      BCCDC's Dr. Danuta Skowronski told CTV News that these cases are unlikely to test positive for the virus.

      Yesterday (January 21), the B.C. health ministry released a statement that stated the province has a diagnostic test for the virus and is taking other measures to prepare.

      Meanwhile, CTV News also reported today that six people in Quebec who recently traveled to China have displayed symptoms of a respiratory virus. Five are being monitored while a sixth tested negative for the virus and has been released.

      CBC News reported that three potential cases in Ontario were ruled out after medical investigation.

      The first North American case was confirmed in a traveller from Wuhan to Seattle, Washington, on January 21.

      Other cases outside of China have been confirmed in Thailand, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. Suspected cases undergone medical investigation in the Philippines, Mexico, and Australia.

      So far, the total number of cases have risen to over 540 individuals and 17 deaths.

      The World Health Organization, meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, has postponed its decision to declare an international public health emergency to tomorrow (January 22).

      The Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, has been shutting down its transportation networks in an attempt to contain the spread of the virus, and are discouraging travel in and out of the city.

      More information about the coronavirus is available at the BCCDC website.

      A Canadian travel advisory (originally issued on January 7) was increased to level two, indicating that travellers should take special health precautions.

      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook