Coronavirus Update – Two Suspected Cases under Investigation in Minnesota

Healthcare Outlook: Telemedicine On the Rise Across Canada

January 24/2020 – 16:40 EST

THUNDER BAY – INTERNATIONAL NEWS – Minnesota State and United States federal health officials have announced steps to confront and arrest or slow the spread of a novel coronavirus which first emerged in Wuhan City in China. These moves have come following the discovery of a second confirmed U.S. infection in Chicago Illinois, and an additional 63 suspected cases.

There are suspected cases in Washington State. Travelers at major United States airports arriving from China will face a health screening.

There are no cases reported, or suspected in Canada at this point. Federal Minister of Health, Patty Hajdu says, “Today I spoke with provincial and territorial health ministers about our work together on the coronavirus. Our government is working closely with the provinces and territories, and PHAC is working closely with public health authorities across the country. The health and safety of Canadians is our top priority, and the risk to Canadians remains low. Our health care system is well equipped and prepared to deal with the novel coronavirus. We have already taken steps to manage the risk of this coronavirus in Canada and we continue to work together with provinces and territories and our international partners including the World Health Organization (WHO) to protect the health and safety of all Canadians.”

In China, preparations are underway for the week-long Lunar New Year Festival. According to media reports, this could cause problems in China for medical officials and hospitals getting supplies as many businesses close for the week.

In Wuhan, the construction of a 1000 bed health facility started on Thursday and officials believe they will have it completed by Monday.

The New York Times is reporting, “The rapidly expanding outbreak has overwhelmed the Chinese province’s hospitals and fueled fears of a global pandemic. Chinese health officials reported on Friday that there had been 26 deaths from the outbreak and more than 900 cases of the coronavirus, a sharp increase.”

The Center for Disease Control has issued advisories asking people to curtail unnecessary travel to areas in China where the virus is present.

Key Points

  • CDC recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to Hubei Province, China, including Wuhan.
  • There is an ongoing outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) coronavirus that can be spread from person to person.
  • Chinese officials have closed transport within and out of Wuhan and other areas in Hubei Province, including buses, subways, trains, and the international airport.
  • Preliminary information suggests that older adults and people with underlying health conditions may be at increased risk for severe disease from this virus.
  • The situation is evolving. This notice will be updated as more information becomes available.

The center for Disease Control says, “A novel (new) coronavirus is causing an outbreak of respiratory illness that began in the city of Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. This outbreak began in early December 2019 and continues to grow. Initially, some patients were linked to the Wuhan South China Seafood City (also called the South China Seafood Wholesale Market and the Hua Nan Seafood Market). Chinese health officials have reported hundreds of cases in the city of Wuhan and severe illness has been reported, including deaths. Cases have also been identified in travelers from Wuhan to other parts of China and the world, including the United States. We expect more cases to be confirmed. Person-to-person spread is occurring though it’s unclear how easily this virus is spreading between people at this time.”

The two suspected Minnesota cases involve travelers who had visited Wuhan recently. Both have received medical attention but did not need to be hospitalized. They are isolated at home while state health officials await test results from the CDC and reach out to people with whom they have been in contact, said Kris Ehresmann, infectious disease program director for the state health department.

Canada Says “Out of an Abundance of Caution”

The Government of Canada states: “Out of an abundance of caution and to mitigate the risk of introduction of the novel coronavirus into Canada, in the coming days, all international travelers arriving at the Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver international airports will be asked an additional screening question to help identify those who may have visited Wuhan.

“Travelers who have visited Wuhan will be subject to additional screening measures. Travelers experiencing flu-like symptoms will be referred for further examination by a public health officer. All others will be provided an information handout.”