The new Coronavirus has reached Canada. Here’s what To Know. A new pathogen that is believed to have originated in a seafood and live animal market in Wuhan, China, late in December has spread to at least 12 countries including Canada, the U.S., France and Singapore
The Wuhan virus is a new form of coronavirus — a term for a group of viruses that have crown-like spikes on them and cause illnesses as benign as the common cold and as severe as SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome).
What is it?
This strain of coronavirus has infected more than 1,975 people globally and killed at least 56. In some people, it causes symptoms similar to the common cold — such as coughing and fever — but in more severe cases it gives patients pneumonia-like symptoms.
Coronaviruses often spread between animals, but some make the jump from animal to human when they mutate. Initially, the disease wasn’t readily transmitted from person to person and all patients had visited the market believed to be the source of the outbreak. But the virus appears to have mutated, giving it the ability to transmit more easily between people and having infected some health-care workers. However, all transmissions are still first and secondary. That means so far, people who got sick either went to the market or were in contact with someone who was at the market, which has been closed for disinfection since Jan. 1.
Symptoms of the disease include coughing, fever, difficulty breathing and lesions on the lungs that can be seen during medical imagery.
Researchers and doctors are still searching for answers regarding this new coronavirus, including what animal passed it on to a human. Investigations into the disease’s origins, range of effects and types of transmission are still in their beginning stages.
Is Canada concerned?
On Jan. 25, health officials confirmed a man in his 50s who had travelled from Wuhan to Toronto had contracted the virus — the first reported case in Canada. Officials said the man was in stable condition in a negative pressure room at a Toronto hospital.
The Public Health Agency of Canada is monitoring the situation as it progresses but also said the risk to Canadian travellers and Canada is low. A spokeswoman from the agency said the country is well positioned to deal with the disease.
Federal health agencies have already planned with their territorial and provincial counterparts on what actions to take if more cases start to appear in Canada.