4 people in Quebec test negative for coronavirus; test results pending for fifth

MONTREAL — Five people in Quebec who had recently travelled to China and displayed symptoms of a respiratory virus have been tested for coronavirus.

Four have so far tested negative, the health ministry told LaPresse on Thursday. The results for the fifth, and final person, are still pending — though that does not mean the person has coronavirus.

A sixth person has also tested negative for the virus and was discharged from the hospital earlier this week.

CTV’s calls and emails to the health ministry were not immediately returned on Thursday evening.

“We’re prepared to intervene. We’re prepare to screen everywhere in all our organizations in Quebec,” Quebec Health Minister Danielle McCann said earlier on Thursday.

The people were being monitored in hospitals in Montreal and Quebec City as a precautionary measure. The ministry did not say which hospitals.

“We know how to intervene if ever we have a case in Quebec. At this point we have no cases in Quebec,” said McCann, who added that they are in “constant contact” with Canada Public Health and the World Health Organization.

China’s National Health Commission confirmed on Thursday that there has now been 830 cases of the new respiratory virus and 25 people have died. 

Cirque du Soleil announced on Thursday the cancellation of the Chinese performances of The Land of Fantasy due to coronavirus concerns. 

PROTOCOLS IN PLACE

The health ministry announced Wednesday it was on watch for the virus and was taking pre-emptive measures to warn doctors, nurses and other health officials.

“The Minister of Health and Social Services wishes to reassure the population and to recall that, as the epidemiological situation is evolving rapidly, the necessary measures have been taken to diagnose cases that could arise in Quebec,” the ministry said in a statement.

Officials have issued guidelines to emergency rooms, instructing them on how to triage and manage potential cases of the virus. Info-Sante has also received a notice about the virus.

At airports, provincial health officials are monitoring incoming travellers from China and Thailand — those countries are considered “under surveillance” according to a spokesperson for the health minister.

“If people have symptoms – and we know the symptoms, it’s a cough, it’s fever, it’s some respiratory problems – if we suspect, and people are trained at the airport to do that, then the person is transported by ambulance, isolated, to a hospital in Montreal or in Quebec,” said McCann.

RISK REMAINS LOW TO CANADIANS

The ministry also noted, however, that few cases had yet been diagnosed outside of China.

“The global risk for Canadians remains low,” the ministry insisted.

Outside of China, confirmed cases of the virus have appeared in Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and the United States, the ministry stated.

According to current information, it is possible the virus can be transmitted between people — several cases have been confirmed among healthcare workers.

The virus, officially known as 2019-nCoV, is similar to severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). Cases began to appear in Wuhan, China, centred around a seafood and animal market, the ministry said. 

NOT A GLOBAL HEALTH EMERGENCY: WHO

The World Health Organization on Thursday said “now is not the time” to call a global health emergency on the matter after two days of emergency meetings.

Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu said in addition to the people being monitored in Quebec, at least one other person – in Vancouver – is also being monitored.

Hajdu stressed that the risk to Canadians remains low and there are no confirmed cases in Canada yet.

Canada’s chief public health officer said earlier this week the risk to Canadians of contracting the virus remains low, but airports in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal — all of which have direct flights from China — would begin screening passengers as one measure of defence. 

With reports from The Canadian Press and The Associated Press

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