Sudbury

'I'm more concerned about fear than about the virus' says Medical Officer of Health

It's important for the public to stay informed about the novel strain of coronavirus, says Dr. Penny Sutcliffe, medical officer of health for Public Health Sudbury & Districts. She's more concerned about fear than she is about the virus itself.

Still many unknowns about new strain of coronavirus

Public Health Sudbury & Districts has activated its emergency response plan, not because there is a local emergency, but to ensure that public health is ready and able to respond rapidly should anything occur in the area, says medical officer of health, Dr. Penny Sutcliffe. (Submitted by Public Health Sudbury and District)

It was not unexpected. That is what Canada's Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam said about Canada's first presumptive case of the coronavirus. Now there are two presumptive cases, both in Toronto. 

Dr. Penny Sutcliffe is the medical officer of health for Public Health Sudbury & Districts. She said it's important that everyone stays up to date.

"On our website — as with many other sites within the public health system — there are links to reputable sources . . . to make sure that people are informed because I'm a bit more concerned about fear than I am about the virus and what that could cause in terms of people's actions," said Sutcliffe.

There are still many unknowns about this new strain of coronavirus such as how easily it spreads from person to person and how serious it can be for someone who is infected.

What's different from SARS

"One thing, though, that is very different from SARS is that we do have a diagnostic test," said Sutcliffe. "When we first began with SARS we were not able to test and understand what was really going on."

Sutcliffe explained that now, preliminary results are available within roughly 48 hours and cases will be confirmed through the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg.

Sutcliffe said that the prevention of respiratory diseases is something that everybody can do. "Staying home if we're ill, avoiding ill people, washing our hands, coughing and sneezing into a tissue — all of these things we've heard about, including not touching your face, are critically important," she said.

Public health ready to respond, says MOH

Sutcliffe said that Public Health Sudbury & Districts has activated its emergency response plan, not because there is a local emergency, but to ensure that public health is ready and able to respond rapidly should anything occur in the area.

"The plan is all about systems and structures — how we communicate, who is responsible for what, and how we ramp up across our agency so that we can respond in a coordinated fashion" she stated. 

"That would mean having regular meetings, making sure that we're sharing information that comes from the province because it can come quite quickly."

After finding a case of the coronavirus in New York, it seemed like a matter of time before one would be found in Canada. That has now happened. The first presumed case in this country is from a man who returned from Wuhan in China last week, where he was infected. His wife is now also infected. We spoke about what happens now that the coronavirus is here with Penny Sutcliffe, the medical officer of health for Public Health Sudbury and Districts. 6:48



 

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