COVID-19: Canada raises travel health risk level for South Korea, Iran, and Northern Italy

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      Update (February 27):

      Canada's 12th and 13th COVID-19 cases have been found in Toronto. Meanwhile, the second group of repatriated Canadians from China are being released from quarantine in Ontario. For more information, see this article

      Original article (February 25):

      After the number of COVID-19, or the novel coronavirus, cases quickly multiplied in several countries, the Canadian government has increased travel health risk warnings for those destinations.

      Today (February 25), the Public Health Agency of Canada added Northern Italy and Iran to Level 2 travel health precautions out of four levels of travel health risks.

      South Korea was listed as Level 2 on February 24.

      Level 2 recommends exercising a high degree of caution and indicates that an outbreak is occurring in a limited geographic location or that there is a change in the existing pattern of disease.

      In recent days, these countries have experienced sudden surges in the number of cases.

      South Korea has risen to 1,146 cases, Italy is at 323, and Iran has increased to 95 cases.

      South Korea has raised its alert level to the highest level for COVID-19, meaning that it has entered an emergency situation.

      Several cities and towns in Northern Italy are on lockdown and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte admitted that a hospital in Northern Italy mishandled their first coronavirus case, which led to the spread of the virus. 

      Conflicting reports have arisen about the death toll from the virus in Iran, yet even the official government count of 12 deaths out of its 61 confirmed cases (as of February 24) is a higher proportion of fatalities than even China or South Korea.

      A rise to Level 3 indicates avoiding all non-essential travel while Level 4 means avoid all travel.

      On January 27, Canada listed China at Level 3 and China’s Hubei province at Level 4.

      Japan (161 cases) Hong Kong (85 cases), and Singapore (91 cases) are listed at Level 1, which denotes travellers should practise regular travel health precautions.

      Travellers are advised to avoid large crowds, avoiding contact with sick people, following local health advice, and practising special health precautions, including washing hands regularly.

      The total number of cases worldwide is at approximately 81,000 with 2,760 deaths and 30,170 recoveries.

      Canada has 11 cases while the U.S. has 57.

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