Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).
Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people.
Detailed investigations found that SARS-CoV was transmitted from civet cats to humans and MERS-CoV from dromedary camels to humans. Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans.
A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.
Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, an infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure, and even death.
And the Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCov) is the strain wreaking havoc on Canadian social media.
On Tuesday, it was reported that Hong Kong became the second place outside mainland China to report a fatality from the coronavirus outbreak, after China reported 425 deaths, bringing the overall toll to 427. Chinese officials reported a total of 20,438 confirmed cases of infection — an increase of 3,235 from Monday, the biggest daily jump since the National Health Commission began releasing statistics. Almost 3,000 of the infected are in critical condition.
But according to Maurica Maher, the regional public health physician and Shari Glenn, director of primary care, the risk in Ontario for the Novel Coronavirus in Canada remains low.
The Six Nations Elected Council released a letter, delivered Maher and Glenn, writing “we have learned of incorrect information posted on social media and the internet. We encourage everyone to get information from reliable sources.”
Reliable sources would include the Government of Canada and the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.
The other information included in the open letter covered several commonly asked questions, here are the facts:
There is no public health emergency in Canada or Ontario.
In Ontario, there have been two people who travelled from China have been diagnosed with coronavirus. In British Columbia, one person who travelled from China has been diagnosed with this virus. All three are recovering from their illness.
But unlike Canada, some countries do not have strong public health and health care systems. The World Health Organization (WHO) is concerned about the spread of this virus to those countries. By declaring a public health emergency, the WHO has alerted all countries to be prepared for the virus and work together to take action to prevent spread. Canada and Ontario have already been doing this and will continue to do so.
Although the risk is low, the First Nations and Inuit Health Branches in Ontario are preparing in the case of more infections in the province. By doing this, Ontario staff will be ready to treat people quickly and prevent the spread of infection.
“We are communicating regularly with First Nations partners, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care of Ontario, the Public Health Agency of Canada, and health units in Ontario so that we have a coordinated approach. We have provided guidance to nurses on how to prepare for a possible patient with coronavirus, and what to do if a patient comes to a nursing station or health centre. This guidance is the same as for any clinic in Ontario.”
There are also very easy things that individuals can do to protect themselves and others: wash hands frequently, cough or sneeze into a sleeve or a tissue, and if sick, stay home.