Outbreak of Coronavirus 2019 from Wuhan
Are you concerned about contracting coronavirus 2019-nCoV ?
The news about a novel coronavirus named 2019-nCoV that appeared in Wuhan, China and has been spreading may be causing you to be concerned.
Please do NOT panic. "Stay Calm and Carry On". Most of you will not be getting very sick from this virus and will not die from this infection.
If you are concerned that you may be sick from coronavirus (you may have travelled from China, or you have come in contact with someone who travelled), please contact us first by telephone (416.508.5691) or online CHAT before you come in to the clinic to be assessed. This will help us screen whether you are at risk, and help us prepare to protect you, ourselves, and other patients before you come.
Please Contact Us first BEFORE you come to the clinic, IF you have ALL of the following SCREENING:
1. You have been travelling (or have come in contact with someone who was travelling) from Wuhan, Hubei, China in the last 14 days.
2. You have a cough or have trouble breathing.
3. You have a fever (37.5 C or higher) or you feel hot/cold chills like you are having a fever.
IF you are already severely ill with a respiratory illness (fever, cough, trouble breathing, weakness), please call 911 instead and go to the Emergency Department. Let them know you may have coronavirus if you have been travelling.
When you arrive at our clinic:
- Please use the alcohol hand sanitizer and clean your hands. (This will help reduce the risk of transmission.)
- Please use the surgical mask provided to cover your mouth. (This will prevent any droplets from your cough from spreading.)
- If you have not already notified us with the above screening criteria, please pickup the Priority Pass Screening slip and show the Front Desk that you meet the screening criteria.
- If you fit the screening criteria, you may be asked to sit in an alternate waiting area and be assessed in an alternate room. This helps us prevent exposing other patients and staff to the virus.
Are you still thinking about the coronavirus...?
Please do not panic about the news you may be hearing. The heightened measures implemented by health authorities are a safety precaution and do not necessarily reflect that actual danger involved. We are still waiting for the epidemiology data to determine the severity of this infection. With any public health outbreak, a step-wise approach is usually taken for the public when implementing public health advisories and orders. Ultimately, some sort of quarantine is the go-to response for any outbreak, as it stops the spread of infection. Although quarantine is effective, a mass quarantine policy can have the side effect of causing unneccesary anxiety and fear. Although you may see scary pictures of health providers in masks, isolation gowns, gloves, this is something that health care providers routinely put on to treat any respiratory illness that comes to a hospital (droplet or airborne precautions). We have been donning these to treat patients for the past decade since we learned about preventing infections from the 2002 SARS-CoV outbreak. Better safe than sorry.
The word coronavirus may sound scary, but this is just one of the many viruses that people get and recover from throughout the year. There are adenovirus, respiratory syncytial virus, influenza, parainfluenza virus, human metapneumovirus... in fact, the common cold is a type of coronavirus. Most people with a cough, fever, or runny nose have one of these other viruses.
You may hear some numbers about people dying from coronavirus, however, this number is alot lower than other infections that you have grown accustomed to hearing about. For example, the annual flu virus has caused an estimated 10,000 deaths already in North America this year alone. (We have a vaccine for the annual flu that prevents or reduced the severity of flu.) Recent data modelling, has suggested that many people are already infected with the coronavirus, and have only been mildly sick (and therefore not reported in calculations.) Likely, these people are not sick enough to seek medical attention and therefore not detected or reported. If this is true, then that actual mortality rate of the coronavirus is even lower than what is reported, and become similar to the annual flu. Currently, it appears that the reported mortality rate for 2019-nCoV is much lower than SARS-CoV (15%) or MERS-CoV (35%).
Public health authorities are prepared for this type of outbreak. New policies and procedures have been developed and implemented ever since the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) outbreak in 2002. Toronto was a major centre that was affected by this and so we have learned alot and have prepared for similar infections. Transparency, cooperation, research and information sharing, and coordinated efforts are key to containing outbreaks in our global connected world. Case identification, contact tracing, quarantine, and screening are typical tools used. Health care providers have been trained and are using contact and droplet precautions (wearing personal protective equipment like gloves, face protection, isolation gowns, N95 masks).
What is your best protection from coronavirus?
- Wash your hands with soap and water.
- Use alcohol based hand sanitizers when outside in public.
- If you cough or sneeze, please cough or sneeze into your arm (cover your mouth and nose with your elbow) when you are not wearing a surgical mask.
- Avoid travelling to known outbreak areas.
- Pay attention to the local public health advisories and follow them. If public health has ordered you to self-quarantine for 14 days, please stay home for 14 days.
Do I need to wear a mask?
Masks that cover the mouth and nose are more visible in the public during outbreaks. Some are made from fashionable fabrics. However, unless you are sick, these masks do not really do anything except help you feel safer. It may make other people around you worried.
If you are coughing and sick, please DO wear some sort of loose fitting mask (like the ear-loop surgical masks). This will help catch all your cough and sneeze droplets in to the mask and prevent it from spreading in the air and dropping on surfaces that may infect other people. Change your masks if they get wet.
Please do NOT wear an N95 mask unless you are a health care provider treating a suspected febrile respiratory illness patient in close proximity. N95 masks have to be fitted for each wearer, since it creates a tight seal around the face. It is hard to breath with an N95 mask on, and if you are sick and coughing, you might get lightheaded and panic if you feel you can't breath. Wear a regular ear-loop surgical mask instead.