Ongoing Outbreak: Coronavirus 2020 [Update]

After Chinese New Year, new international cases — including cases in Toronto and Montreal, Canada — and worldwide infections surpassing 87,000, with nearly 3,000 deaths in 60 countries. Coronavirus is a growing global health concern.

With memories of the SARS in 2003, the recent outbreaks of the new Coronoavirus (2019-nCoV) has many Canadians asking:

Where are there outbreaks of Coronavirus? Is it safe to travel? How can I protect myself from Coronavirus?

We have outlined some key facts about Coronavirus, as is known at present.

What We Know About Coronavirus?

Wuhan China Coronavirus province map
First cases of Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) identified in Wuhan, Hubei.

An outbreak of respiratory illness, Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), first identified in Wuhan, China, has spread to other parts of the country. 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. 

Chinese health authorities and the World Health Organization (WHO) have confirmed human-to-human transmission has occurred; however, it is unclear how easily the virus is transmitted between people. There is no evidence of human-to-human transmission outside of China at this time.

Some people who travelled to Wuhan have been diagnosed with Coronavirus outside of China, including Canada and the United States of America, and more cases are expected.

Symptoms of Coronavirus

Symptoms of Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), have included fever, cough and difficulty breathing. While many of the characteristics of the new coronavirus are still unknown, mild to severe illness has been reported for confirmed cases. Until more is understood about the virus, older people and people with a weakened immune system or underlying medical condition are considered at higher risk of severe disease.

Travel & Coronavirus

Coronavirus: how to be prepared abroad? 

While China remains the geographical centre of the COVID-19 outbreak, many countries have reported cases and the number is growing every day. 

Before travelling, you should check the Travel Advice and Advisories given by the Canadian government. You would be able to prevent an eventual risk of Coronavirus regarding your destination. This should be done twice: once you have planned your trip and in the days before departure. 

How to Prevent Coronavirus
The best way to prevent Coronavirus is to wash your hands! Avoid close contact with people who are sick, cover your cough, and stay at home when you are sick.

Chinese officials in Wuhan as well as other cities in Hubei Province are implementing exceptional measures to reduce further spread of the virus, such as transportation shutdowns, strict infection prevention and control measures and limiting or cancelling large public gatherings. Given the safety and security risks associated with these measures, the Government of Canada recommends that Canadians avoid non-essential travel to Hubei province, China. Verify your travel plans before you depart.

To best protect yourself from getting Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) and to prevent further spread of Coronavirus, travellers should take the below precautions and seek medical attention if they become sick.

During your trip:

  • Avoid high-risk areas such as farms, live animal markets, and areas where animals may be slaughtered.
  • Avoid contact with animals (alive or dead).
  • Avoid surfaces with animal droppings or secretions on them.
  • Avoid contact with sick people, especially if they have fever, cough, or difficulty breathing.
  • Avoid eating raw or undercooked animal products.
  • Be aware of the local situation and follow local public health advice. In some areas, access to health care may be affected.

Travellers are reminded to follow usual health precautions:

Wash your hands:

  • Wash your hands often with soap under warm running water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer only if soap and water are not available. It’s a good idea to always keep some with you when you travel.

Practise proper cough and sneeze etiquette:

  • Cover your mouth and nose with your arm to reduce the spread of germs.
  • If you use a tissue, dispose of it as soon as possible and wash your hands afterwards.

Monitor your health:

If you become sick when you are travelling or after you return, avoid contact with others except to see a health care professional. Tell them:

  • your symptoms;
  • where you have been travelling or living;
  • if you have had direct contact with animals (for example: visited a live animal market) or close contact with a sick person.

If you feel sick during your flight to Canada or upon arrival, inform the flight attendant or a Canadian border services officer.

As a preventative measure, some countries have begun screening travellers arriving from Wuhan. Travellers returning to Canada from areas affected by the Coronavirus outbreak should be attentive to messages and instructions being provided at Canadian airports. They will be asked about their travel history and may be asked further questions about their health.

The overall risk of the new Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) to Canadian travellers and to Canada remains low. Please verify travel health recommendations regularly as they may change over the course of your travel as new information becomes available.