Canada confirms four coronavirus cases while U.S. declares public health emergency

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      Update (February 1): An eighth coronavirus case in the U.S. has been confirmed in Boston, Massachusetts. 

      Original article (January 31):

      While Canada confirmed a fourth case of the novel coronavirus and the U.S. is declaring a public health emergency, the B.C. government also issued a statement on its current status in monitoring the virus.


      Ontario’s chief medical officer of health Dr. David Williams confirmed today that the province’s third case of the virus (and the fourth in Canada) was confirmed in a female patient in her 20s in London, Ontario.

      She had arrived in Toronto on January 23 without symptoms and travelled to London in a private vehicle. She began to develop symptoms on January 24, and had limited exposure to other individuals after that time.

      The Ontario Ministry of Health stated in a news release that a case that had produced a negative result after testing by Public Health Ontario had produced a positive result after being tested by the National Medical Laboratory “which uses a more sensitive test that can identify the smallest trace presence of the virus”.

      The patient has since “recovered and is well”.

      Meanwhile, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre also announced today that a patient with the coronavirus (the first case in Canada) has been discharged after progressive improvement and he no longer requires in-patient care. Sunnybrook stated that there is no risk to the public and that the patient, who will be monitored, will remain at home in isolation.


      Just as the U.S.’s seventh confirmed case was announced to be in northern California, the United States government declared a public health emergency today, effective as of Sunday (February 2). At that time, any U.S. citizens returning to the USA who have visited China’s Hubei province (within the previous two weeks) will be subject to a mandatory quarantine of up to 14 days. The declaration comes one day after the World Health Organizaion declared an international public health emergency.

      U.S. citizens returning from other parts of mainland China will face a health screening at some ports of entry and may be subject to a monitored self-quarantine of up to 14 days. 

      Foreign nationals who have travelled in China two weeks prior and pose a risk to spreading the virus will be denied entry to the U.S.

      British Columbia

      B.C.’s health minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry issued a joint statement today (January 31) about the novel coronavirus, also known as 2019-nCoV, in the province.

      The province has tested 114 samples for the virus (as of January 30) with only one positive result. The number of tests does not reflect the number of individuals testeed as some patients have had more than one sample tested. The number of patients tested hasn’t been specified.

      The B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) identified a positive coronavirus test from B.C. on January 27 and Winnipeg’s National Medical Laboratory confirmed the results on January 28.

      An updated testing number will be provided at the BCCDC website each Friday.

      Dr. Henry and Dix reiterated that the risk of contagion in B.C. remains low.

      “It is not necessary for the general public to take special precautions beyond the usual measures recommended to prevent other common respiratory viruses during winter. Regular handwashing, coughing or sneezing into your elbow sleeve, disposing of tissues appropriately and avoiding contact with sick people are important ways to prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses, generally.”

      Anyone who may have been exposed to or are experiencing symptoms of the coronavirus should contact their primary care provider or local public health office, or call 811 (which has translation services for over 130 languages).

      The BCCDC also addressed several misconceptions about the coronavirus, including tranmission, the use of masks, and more.

      As of this writing, there are 9,926 cases worldwide, with 213 deaths and 222 recoveries. Locations outside mainland China with cases include Thailand (19); Japan (15); Singapore (13); Hong Kong (12); South Korea (11); Taiwan (10); Australia (9); Malaysia (8); USA (7); France and Germany (5 each); United Arab Emirates (4); Italy, Russia, U.K., and Vietnam (two each); and Cambodia, Finland, India, Nepal, Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Sweden each with one.

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