As the number of coronavirus cases rises in Canada the country is preparing for a possible pandemic according to CBC News.
Theresa Tam, the Chief Public Health Officer said that the virus is quickly becoming more threatening. The virus—now referred to as COVID-19—has mostly been contained in Hubei, China where it began but Tam noted that it is now spreading person-to-person in many countries.
“These signs are concerning, and they mean that the window of opportunity for containment … for stopping the global spread of the virus, is closing,” said Tam
“It also tells countries like Canada, that have been able to manage and detect cases so far, that we have to prepare across governments, across communities, and as families and individuals, in the event of more widespread transmission in our community.”
The outbreak has been declared a public health emergency by the World Health Organization (WHO). They have not yet declared the virus a pandemic.
Tam added that the trajectory of the virus is still unknown and cases could have occurred in countries that lack the proper technology to diagnose the sick and contain the virus.
A pandemic response plan was developed by Canada in 2009. The plan includes research that is meant to eventually develop a vaccine. Tam also said that Canada will have a similar approach to its preparations whether the virus is declared a pandemic by WHO or not.
On Monday, Health Minister Patty Hajdu said, “As the window closes in terms of stopping the global spread, as we watch the WHO assess whether or not this is a full pandemic, obviously our attention turns more toward our domestic preparedness and what Canada can do to make sure our system and structures are ready for a change in our own population.”
According to the WHO, there are 77,362 reported cases of coronavirus and 2,618 deaths.
Outside of China, there are 2,074 cases and 23 deaths. Ten of the cases are in Canada.
WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that it is encouraging that the amount of cases in China is dropping.
The epidemic was at its worst from Jan. 23 to Feb. 2 and the number of cases started to decline after that.
“For the moment, we are not witnessing the uncontained global spread of this virus, and we are not witnessing large-scale severe disease or death,” said Tedros.
“Does this virus have pandemic potential? Absolutely it has. Are we there yet? From our assessment, not yet.”
Tedros added that calling the outbreak a pandemic may bring unnecessary fear.
So far, Canada has done a good job of containing the virus and detecting imported cases.
Tam said that there will be enhanced border control measures. Travellers arriving in Canada who are experiencing symptoms that resemble the flu will be asked to self-isolate.