Quebec Adds More Countries To Observation List For COVID-19 & PHAC Recommends Precautions
There has been "community spread" in these countries.
As of 3 p.m. on Tuesday, February 25, 2020, there are still no confirmed cases of coronavirus COVID-19 in Quebec, despite the recent of a passenger from Iran who was confirmed as the sixth case to be infected after she landed in Vancouver, B.C. Canada-wide, there are currently 11 confirmed cases of the virus, including four cases in Ontario and seven in B.C. In Quebec, there are currently seven individuals under investigation and 52 cases that have been invalidated or analyzed as negative.
The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) still considers the risk to public health in Canada associated with COVID-19 as low.
Still, due to the uncertain nature of the virus when it comes to the spread between humans, PHAC has issued new travel health notices regarding certain countries that have shown a heightened risk of infection due to the rising number of cases of COVID-19.
Hong Kong, Japan, and Singapore were added to the travel health notice list this week but remain at a Level 1 risk, with PHAC advising travellers to "practise usual precautions."
But Northern Italy, Iran, and South Korea have all been upped to a Level 2 risk with PHAC advising travellers to "practise special precautions."
PHAC notes that in Italy, "cases have been confirmed in multiple regions in the north of the country. Sustained community spread of the virus is being reported. This means it is unknown how or where some people became infected, and the spread is ongoing."
In Iran, "the extent of the spread is currently unclear," but the same community spread that has been seen in Italy is also present in Iran, meaning the source of the spread is unknown.
PHAC also notes that "Iranian New Year will be celebrated on March 20, 2020. Around this holiday, travel within Iran may increase."
In South Korea, "cases have been confirmed in all provinces and sustained community spread of the virus is being reported."
At this time, PHAC is "not recommending the cancellation or postponement of travel" to Japan, Hong Kong, or Singapore due to the outbreak of COVID-19, but "does recommend usual precautions against respiratory illnesses."
Simple, straight-forward suggestions continue to be the advice for travellers as well as Canadians at home:
Wash your hands often, with soap under warm running water for at least 20 seconds.
PHAC also notes that "spending time in large crowds or crowded areas can increase your risk of getting sick."
Individuals who have a weakened immune system or underlying medical conditions are at a higher risk of developing severe disease. For this reason, PHAC does suggest that "those travellers may want to consider postponing travel."
The Public Health Agency of Canada is actively monitoring the situation and working with the WHO and other international partners to gather additional information. The situation is evolving rapidly.