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COVID-19: resources for pharmacy professionals

February 19, 2020

While the novel coronavirus is spreading globally, the risk in Canada remains low.

The following is a message from Health Canada about the outbreak of the novel coronavirus COVID-19:

The outbreak of COVID-19 was first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is closely monitoring this emerging and rapidly evolving situation.

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has assessed the public health risk associated with COVID-19 as low for Canada. Public health risk is continually reassessed as new information becomes available.

Overall, the risk to Canadian travellers abroad is low.

The risk to Canadian travellers to China is assessed as high. The Government of Canada recommends avoiding

  • all non-essential travel to China; and
  • all travel to Hubei Province, China, including Wuhan city.

PHAC is working with provinces, territories and international partners, including the World Health Organization, to actively monitor the situation. Global efforts are focused on containment of the outbreak in China and the prevention of further spread.

Canada's Chief Public Health Officer of Canada is in close contact with provincial and territorial Chief Medical Officers of Health to ensure that any cases of COVID-19 occurring in Canada continue to be rapidly identified and managed in order to protect the health of Canadians.

Canada's National Microbiology Laboratory has implemented testing to diagnose COVID-19 from clinical specimens. The laboratory is working collaboratively with Canadian provincial public health laboratories to ensure there is additional testing capacity in multiple jurisdictions.

As of February 16, 2020, the National Microbiology Laboratory has confirmed 350 negative cases and 8 positive cases of COVID-19 in Canada. There have been no positive cases reported in Alberta.

For more information, visit Canada's response page.

Meanwhile, Alberta Health has published a Coronavirus info for Albertans webpage which includes information for travellers, schools, and employers, as well as tips on prevention and treatment for COVID-19.

Alberta Health Services (AHS) has published a webpage with updates on the level of risk in Alberta (currently low) and actions being taken by both AHS and Alberta Health. Currently, both organizations are monitoring the situation closely.

AHS has also published a COVID-19 FAQ document for the public, which includes information on COVID-19 symptoms, how the virus is spread, how to protect yourself from COVID-19, and when wearing a mask may be appropriate for members of the public. AHS stresses that frequent hand washing, covering your mouth when coughing or sneezing, and avoiding touching your face, nose, or mouth remain the best evidence-based ways to prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses.

For health professionals caring for individuals infected with COVID-19, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends use of an N95 filtering facepiece respirator. The CDC has published FAQs for health professionals about respiratory protection.

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