UPDATED: Coronavirus spreads closer to Canada, first case confirmed in the US

Mercedes Leyh/ January 21, 2020

The strain is being called the “novel coronavirus” as it is something health officials have never seen before.
(NIAID / Flickr)

The U.S. Centre for Disease Control has confirmed the first North American case of the coronavirus which originated in China. U.S. officials confirmed  the patient is a man in his 30’s who is a resident of Snohomish County, Washington.

The man arrived in Washington State on January 15th, after visiting Wuhan, China where the outbreak originated. Shortly after arriving back into the United States, the patient sought care at a medical facility in Washington.

According to the CDC, health officials suspected the patient was infected, sending a clinical specimen for testing. The CDC said he is not considered a threat to medical staff.

There are currently over 500 cases of the coronavirus in China with 17 deaths reported by Chinese officials.

The virus is now confirmed in 6 countries which include China, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, and now the U.S.

What is the coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that are common among animals. The viruses can give people flu-like symptoms. However, it can also cause more serious illnesses such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, also known as SARS. The virus can spread from animals-to-humans and in rare cases from human-to-human.

This current strain of the virus is being identified as “novel coronavirus” as it is something health officials have never seen before.

There is no vaccine available for the virus as of January 19, 2020.

The BC Centre for Disease Control have sent out a few updates, advising travellers of the precautions they should take.
(@CDCofBC/Twitter)

Health officials are updating the public as new information comes out on the coronavirus.
(Tiana Mohebi/BCIT News)

Is Canada at risk?

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) announced that they are actively monitoring the outbreak of the novel coronavirus and are in close contact with international partners, including the World Health Organization.

Chief Public Health Officer, Theresa Tam said that additional measures will be taken at Canadian international airports. This will include signage at the Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal international airports, reminding travellers to go to border services if they are experiencing flu-like symptoms. Electronic kiosks will also have additional health screening questions at these airports.

“Together with the provinces and territories we have multiple systems in place to identify, prevent, and control the spread of serious infectious diseases in Canada and we will keep the public informed as the situation evolves.”-Theresa Tam, Chief Public Health Officer

3 people in Canada were recently investigated for having the virus and have all been ruled out. Health officials are not revealing where in Canada these people live.

With the Chinese Lunar New Year on the horizon, Tam said that it is another reason why the PHAC is adding more precautions for travellers.

“I think it is important to take this seriously, and be vigilant and prepared. I don’t think there is any reason for us to panic or be overly concerned.”Theresa Tam, Chief Public Health Officer

The World Health Organization will meet Wednesday to decide whether to declare the outbreak a public health emergency

Below is a map of where the virus has spread to.