Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Province actively monitoring the coronavirus

The Province of Ontario is taking steps to safeguard the health of the public against the coronavirus.

Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, released a statement on Ontario’s preparedness for the new coronavirus in Ontario.

“I want Ontarians to know that their health and wellbeing is my top concern,” Elliott stated on Wednesday.

“While the risks posed by this new coronavirus to Ontarians remain low, the province is actively monitoring and is fully prepared to respond. To date, there have been no confirmed cases in Canada.”

Elliott said to strengthen the ministry’s ability to monitor any coronavirus cases, the government is adding novel coronavirus as a designated disease reportable under Ontario’s public health legislation.

“Now, physicians, hospitals and other care facilities will be required to report a suspected or confirmed case of the new coronavirus to their local medical officer of health,” Elliott stated.

“The local public health unit can then quickly and effectively take all necessary measures to investigate, complete lab tests and do case, and contact management to prevent and control further spread of the infection. Ontario’s reporting requirements now align with British Columbia and Alberta.”

Given the recent media coverage, it is also important to note that Ontario’s integrated health system today is far more prepared to respond to any potential health risks than in the past, Elliott added.

“We now have mechanisms in place, which have strengthened how health care providers work together and coordinate responses to emerging public health issues, such as this new virus,” Elliott said.

“Significant investments in our public health and infection prevention and control systems have been made, including the creation of Public Health Ontario. All Ontarians should take comfort in knowing that our skilled health care providers are bringing their considerable experience to effectively monitor and, should it be needed, respond to this emerging situation.”

Elliott said her ministry, in collaboration with Public Health Ontario, local public health units, hospitals and other health care providers, will continue to diligently monitor this emerging situation to ensure that Ontario is prepared to identify, contain and treat any potential cases of this virus so that we can continue to build and protect healthy and safe communities.

“Again, I want to reiterate our top priority will always remain safeguarding the health of the public, patients and providers,” the Minister said.

“These changes announced today support this commitment to protecting Ontarians.”

Federal Government officials say on December 31, 2019, a cluster of cases of pneumonia was reported in Wuhan, China, and the cause has been confirmed as a new coronavirus that has not previously been identified in humans.

This virus is now known as the 2019 Novel Coronavirus or 2019-nCoV.

“The current situation is evolving,” Federal officials stated.

“More information is expected to emerge in the coming days and weeks.”

Federal officials say the Public Health Agency of Canada is working with international partners, including the World Health Organization, to actively monitor the situation.

“Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer of Canada is in close contact with provincial and territorial Chief Medical Officers of Health to ensure that Canada is prepared to rapidly identify and manage 2019-nCoV should it arrive in Canada,” Federal officials stated.

“The Public Health Agency of Canada has assessed the public health risk associated with 2019-nCoV in Wuhan, China as low for Canada and for Canadian travelers. Public health risk is continually reassessed as new information becomes available.”

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