'It doesn't change anything': Alberta's top doctor on novel coronavirus emergency declaration
EDMONTON -- Alberta's top doctor reiterated that the province is still at a low risk of a novel coronavirus outbreak, hours after the World Health Organization declared an emergency over the respiratory illness.
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said there are there are still no probable or confirmed cases of novel coronavirus in the province as of Thursday.
China has reported more than 7,800 cases and 170 deaths caused by novel coronavirus, and 18 other countries have reported cases.
Hinshaw said while the WHO declaration may have some Albertans feeling anxious, "it's important they get their information from reliable sources."
She said the WHO emergency ensures international coordination in response to the outbreak, but it doesn't change day-to-day life for Albertans.
Hinshaw said some Albertans have been tested or isolated for possible coronavirus, but warned against jumping to conclusions as there are still zero probable or confirmed cases.
"Just because someone's isolated doesn't mean they're being tested for the virus, and even if they are being tested doesn't mean they have the virus," she said.
All tests so far have come back negative for novel coronavirus, and many of those tests tested positive for other pathogens.
Hinshaw said as it's influenza season, people can take basic steps to protect themselves from most viruses by washing their hands or using alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
So far, three cases have been confirmed in Canada. Two people in Ontario and one person in B.C. have fallen ill with coronavirus.
Hinshaw said if coronavirus were to spread in the province, Alberta has a pandemic plan to address it.
"It's important that we're ready for any eventuality, but again that is not the situation today," she said.