Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health, makes an announcement regarding a Bill entitled "An Act to amend the Criminal Code (medical assistance in dying)" during a press conference at the National Press Theatre in Ottawa on Monday Feb. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Prepare for new coronavirus like an emergency, health minister advises

About 81,000 people around the world have now become ill with COVID-19

Health Minister Patty Hajdu is encouraging Canadians to stockpile food and medication in their homes in case they or a loved one falls ill with the novel coronavirus.

That’s good advice for any potential crisis from a viral outbreak to power outages, she said Wednesday.

“It’s good to be prepared because things can change quickly,” she said.

She also suggested people should do what they can to ease the burden on the health care system in the meantime by staying home if they’re sick, washing their hands and getting flu shots.

The virus known as COVID-19 is different from influenza and the flu shot doesn’t provide protection against it, but the fewer people who are sick, the less strain on doctors and hospitals.

About 81,000 people around the world have now become ill with COVID-19, with the World Health Organization reporting cases in 37 countries outside China. There has been a rash of new cases appearing in Italy, Iran, South Korea and Japan over the past week, and officials fear the virus could spread undetected in other countries that lack the capacity to monitor people for signs of infection.

Ontario health officials announced Thursday morning they’d detected the 12th case in Canada so far. Each of the Canadian cases so far can be traced to a particular visit abroad.

As the virus spreads to more countries, Hajdu said travellers should recognize there could be a risk if they leave Canada.

WATCH: Minister says consider coronavirus outbreak when planning for spring break

“It’s important that people know that international travel may have exposed them to the novel coronavirus and they may not know,” she said.

The latest advice the government has given to people returning to Canada is to monitor themselves for potential symptoms, no matter where they travelled, and to contact local public-health units if they have concerns.

“As the coronavirus changes and travels across the globe, it’s getting more and more difficult to isolate countries that are more specifically affected,” Hajdu said.

People travelling for spring break should think carefully about where they and their families are planning to go, according to Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne.

Champagne suggested travellers examine the online advisories posted by Global Affairs Canada before leaving for their vacations, but noted the federal government can’t predict whether the coronavirus will spread to their travel destination while they are away from home.

“We’ll continue to provide all the information so people can make their best assessment, what’s right for them,” Champagne said.

He says it’s also important for Canadians to register with Global Affairs Canada whenever they leave the country, so that authorities can contact them easily if an emergency develops while they are away.

Laura Osman, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Living with faith

Bea Buhler is a pillar of strength at the Alliance Church

Interior Health officials outline pandemic response in virtual town hall

Kelowna-Lake County MLA Norm Letnick moderates digital discussion, Q&A with Interior Health leadership

Second Vernon-area high school exposed to COVID-19

Kalamalka Secondary School staff, students urged to self-isolate if showing symptoms

MP Morrison touts non-partisan effort to provide relief amid COVID-19 pandemic

The federal government has announced a slew of economic initiatives for those impacted by the pandemic

Revelstoke students to remain home next week

The district said staff are preparing for learning opportunities for students from home

B.C. is seeing the highest rate of COVID-19 recovery in Canada, and there’s a few reasons why

British Columbia was one of the first to see rise in COVID-19 cases, and has also switched up testing

RCMP, firefighters rally in support for health care workers in Kelowna

Pandosy Street was packed with supporters Saturday night

WATCH: Okanagan producer treats neighbours to live music from safe distance

Neighbours practiced social distancing as Jeff Johnson played songs from his front steps

Sewers stitch masks to free up supplies for front-line health-care workers

“We have little old ladies sewing up a storm,” said Joan Davis

Experts weigh in on best handling of groceries during COVID-19 pandemic

Study suggests the virus can live for up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to three days on plastic

COVID-19 world update: Enforceable quarantine in NYC?; France orders 1 billion masks

Spain warns EU’s future at stake; New York governor calls Trump’s idea ‘federal declaration of war

Earth Hour 2020 kicks off online Saturday night

Action moves online due to COVID-19

Okanagan woman baking for those in need amid COVID-19

Vernon’s Crystal Hedlund launched a GoFundMe page to generate funds for baking materials

Okanagan distillery hands out thousands of sanitizer bottles, needs help in COVID-19 fight

Okanagan Springs is donating hand sanitizer to help fill COVID-induced shortages

Most Read