WINNIPEG — Manitoba health officials say two people in the province were tested for possible coronavirus in recent days, but the results came back negative. The two people assessed had uncertain travel histories but were only experiencing symptoms associated with the common cold.
Health Minister Cameron Friesen says while no reported cases of the deadly virus have made their way into the province, the health system is prepared to respond in the event the virus spreads.
“There have been no reported cases of novel coronavirus to date in Manitoba and the risk remains low at this time, but we must remain vigilant,” said Friesen.
“Across the health system, 911 call operators, first responders and front-line health-care staff have the information they need to identify symptoms and ensure all precautionary infectious disease protocols are in place.”
Two confirmed cases have been reported in Toronto in a couple that recently returned from Wuhan, China. A third case of presumed coronavirus was reported Tuesday in a British Columbia man in his 40s. The man regularly works in China and lives in the area covered by Vancouver Coastal Health.
In Manitoba, patients will be assessed for coronavirus should they seek treatment at health-care facilities for fever or respiratory symptoms and have travelled in the past 14 days to Wuhan, China, where the outbreak first occurred. Those who have had close contact with an ill person who travelled to that region will also be assessed.
“We have excellent infection and prevention control procedures in place to help reduce the risk of illness,” Friesen added. “Our proximity to the National Microbiology Laboratory (in Winnipeg), where confirmatory testing for the virus is occurring, is also a clear benefit to Manitobans in ensuring results are delivered promptly.”
Patients who do meet the criteria for the coronavirus will be placed in a designated separate waiting room. Appropriate infection prevention and control measures will be put in place while the client receives care including the use of surgical masks. If a case is confirmed by laboratory testing, public health will promptly followup with close contacts to take appropriate precautions and monitor for symptoms.
Manitoba health officials say while surgical masks have been flying off store shelves locally, they do not recommend Manitobans wear such masks in an effort to protect themselves, as the health risk remains low.
The province is working closely with the Public Health Agency of Canada and the World Health Organization to monitor the situation as it evolves.