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Health officials warn Canadians of possible coronavirus outbreak

The Canadian Chief Public Health Officer said Canada will likely not be able to stop coronavirus from entering the country if it becomes a global pandemic.

As the coronavirus spreads around the world, public health officials are cautioning that it will be difficult to prevent the spread of the virus in Canada.

Canadian Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said Monday Canada will likely not be able to stop coronavirus from entering the country if it becomes a global pandemic.

“These signs are concerning, and they mean that the window of opportunity for containment, that is for stopping the global spread of the virus, is closing,” she said.

“It also tells countries like Canada, who have been able to detect and manage imported cases thus far, that we have to prepare.”

Dr. Tam said the public, as well as businesses and governments, should be prepared if a coronavirus outbreak does occur.

Canada has increased monitoring and screening efforts as outbreaks of coronavirus in Italy, Iran, and South Korea raise fears the virus is no longer containable.

Canada currently has recorded 11 cases of coronavirus as of Tuesday, the latest being a young woman who recently arrived in Toronto from China.

On Monday a man who had recently been in contact with an infected person on a recent trip to Iran became British Columbia’s seventh confirmed case.

British Columbia is now warning travellers to watch for the symptoms of coronavirus “no matter where they were in the world.”

Globally there are 79,331 confirmed cases of coronavirus globally, most of which are in China. Over 2,600 people have died worldwide.

Dr. Vera Etches, the City of Ottawa’s top health officer, agreed with Dr. Tam, saying that fully containing coronavirus is becoming unlikely.

“It looks like it is going to be more and more difficult to contain this virus and it may well evolve into a pandemic. That would change the efforts to contain every last case and contact,” she said.

With the probability of stopping a coronavirus outbreak in Canada becoming slimmer, Dr. Tam said she would like to slow the spread of the virus in Canada – especially with existing influenza risks this time of year.

“We are trying to push past (the) winter respiratory season. That will help a lot,” she said.

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