On December 31, 2019, a cluster of cases of pneumonia was reported in Wuhan, China, and the cause has been confirmed as a new coronavirus that has not previously been identified in humans. The current situation is evolving. More information is expected to emerge in the coming days and weeks. New information is becoming available daily and a clearer picture is being formed as this information is analyzed by provincial, national and international health agencies.

Risk to HKPR residents

The Public Health Agency of Canada has assessed the public health risk associated with the current novel coronavirus infection in Wuhan, China as low for Canada and for Canadian travellers. Public health risk is continually reassessed as new information becomes available.

How HKPR is monitoring the novel coronavirus infection

HKPR District Health Unit is following the lead of the Ontario Ministry of Health, Public Health Ontario, and the Public Health Agency of Canada in responding to the novel coronavirus. HKPR is working with local hospitals who have put measures in place to screen individuals who are suspected of being infected by the novel coronavirus. Please read signs and follow all instructions when visiting a hospital.

The Ministry of Health has added novel coronavirus as a designated disease reportable under Ontario’s public health legislation. Now, physicians, hospitals and other care facilities will be required to report a suspected or confirmed case of the novel coronavirus to their local medical officer of health.

If a suspected or confirmed case of novel coronavirus were to be identified in our area, HKPR District Health Unit would work with the Ministry, Public Health Ontario Laboratory, and local hospitals in the management of the case and any contacts.

Recommendation to residents

To reduce the spread of germs including the flu and the novel coronavirus we recommend that you:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, or use hand sanitizer
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth unless you have just washed your hands
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your arm, not your hand
  • Stay home if you are sick
  • If you are ill and must visit a healthcare provider, call ahead or tell them right away when you arrive that you have a respiratory illness and wear a mask while waiting to be seen
  • Avoid visiting people in hospitals or long-term care homes if you are sick
  • Get your flu shot
Symptoms of the novel coronavirus

Currently, only persons who become ill within 14 days of having visited the Hubei Province in China or having been in close contact with someone who has a respiratory illness who has been to the Hubei Province in China within 14 days prior to their illness onset are considered at risk for novel coronavirus infection. Common symptoms of infection include fever, cough and respiratory symptoms such as shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. Please consider the following if you think you were in contact with the novel coronavirus:

1. Individuals who have developed symptoms within two weeks of travelling to Wuhan, are asked to call the hospital or the medical clinic prior to arriving.

2. Individuals who have been in contact with individuals who have developed symptoms within two weeks of travelling to the Hubei Province in China, are asked to call the hospital or the medical clinic prior to arriving.

Web resources:

Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care – Wuhan Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCOv)

Public Health Agency of Canada, 2019 Novel Coronavirus infection (Wuhan, China): Outbreak update

Government of Canada – Novel Coronavirus in China