Calgary

Self-isolate if you've been to Hubei, China in last 2 weeks, Alberta health officials advise

Health officials in Alberta are taking further steps today to prevent any possible spread of the novel coronavirus by asking anyone who has traveled to China's Hubei province — the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak — in the last two weeks to self-isolate.

Coronavirus precautions follow guidance from Public Health Agency of Canada

The ultrastructural morphology exhibited by the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), which was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China, is seen in an illustration released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. Jan. 29, 2020. (Alissa Eckert/Dan Higgins/MAM/CDC/Reuters)

Health officials in Alberta are taking further steps to prevent any possible spread of the novel coronavirus by asking anyone who has traveled to China's Hubei province — the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak — in the last two weeks to self-isolate.

The virus has killed more than 560 people worldwide and made roughly 30,000 people sick — including five confirmed cases in Canada.

Officials say 28 people in Alberta have been tested, but that there are still no confirmed or probable cases of the new coronavirus in the province.

But new evidence is emerging about how the virus spreads, prompting questions about whether people with no symptoms can be contagious.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, says the risk posed by the new coronavirus remains low in Alberta. (Peter Evans/CBC)

And as a precautionary move, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, is now asking anyone who has travelled to China's Hubei province in the last 14 days to self-isolate — by staying home from work or school and avoiding contact with others — for two weeks from the last day they were there.

"Mainly because what we understand is the virus has a range of symptoms from mild to severe, and in a very early onset of mild symptoms, people may not associate those mild symptoms with an infection," she said.

"So this reduces the likelihood those mild symptoms will start while they're out in a public place.".

It's believed there are about 70 people in Canada who have travelled to Hubei within the last 14 days. But it isn't clear how many of them are Alberta.

Travellers from other parts of mainland China are not being asked to isolate themselves unless they start feeling sick with symptoms such as a fever or cough.

At that point health officials want them to stay home and call Health Link at 811.

Hinshaw says Alberta is following guidance from the Public Health Agency of Canada by bringing in these new measures.

But she reiterated that the risk to Albertans is low.

The World Health Organization declared a public health emergency two weeks ago.

After that, Alberta's provincial operations centre moved to a Level 2 of four levels, with Level 4 being the highest. Level 2 is used when there is a potential significant disruption to a community.

With files from Jennifer Lee

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