An increasing number of cases of COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus, have been identified in Alberta.
According to Alberta Health Services (AHS), 375 people in the province have been tested since the outbreak happened in Wuhan, China in December.
On Jan. 30, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced the coronavirus is a public health emergency of international concern.
There have been 59 cases identified across Canada as of March 7. The number of people from around the world that have contracted the virus has reached just over 105,000, with 3,570 deaths recorded so far.
Although it’s a serious issue that’s continuing to grow, the risk for Albertans is still considered low by AHS. They believes it’s transmitted person-to-person and isn’t airborne through long distances or time. The coronavirus causes flu-like symptoms, including a cough, fever, and difficulty breathing.
I wrote an article about the coronavirus in February and spoke with Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health. Even before there were cases in the province, she was confident they were prepared for when it did make an appearance.
I think the low number of cases confirmed in Canada speaks to our medical system, and how they’ve been on guard since China announced what was happening. It’s a threat being taken seriously and every precaution is being explored in order to prevent it spreading even more.
When I was in high school, SARS was a major problem and caused almost everyone I knew to go into a frenzy. Anyone who had a cough was suspected of carrying the illness and a number of my fellow students were sent home and weren't allowed to come back without a signed note from a doctor confirming they weren’t carrying the disease.
AHS stated the coronavirus doesn’t seem as serious as SARS, since most patients only experience mild symptoms and it’s only been fatal for seniors and people with existing medical issues, Hinshaw said in a statement.
We just need to take precautions, and be vigilant about how we’re feeling. Wash your hands for 20 seconds minimum, which you should already be doing, stay home when you’re sick unless you’re seeking medical attention, cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, and stay informed.
There’s been reliable information released on an almost daily basis, and I’m confident if there’s a higher risk for Albertans to contract it, we’ll know right away.
Unless you’ve been to Wuhan or another country with a large number of cases, there doesn’t seem to be a huge likelihood of contracting the virus at the moment.
If you’re afraid you or someone you know may have been exposed to coronavirus, call Healthlink at 811.