Manitoba is keeping a close eye on a new virus that has already killed six people in China and infected nearly 300 others, Manitoba Health, Seniors and Active Living Minister Cameron Friesen said Tuesday in Brandon.
Friesen, who attended Manitoba Ag Days, said he has been in touch with public health officials, including the chief provincial public health officer, regarding the coronovirus outbreak that has so far not reached Canada.
"We all know the seriousness, going back a few years to the SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) outbreak in Canada," he said.
That coronavirus spread from China to more than a dozen countries in 2002-03. In Toronto, it infected 438 people and killed 44.
"We are monitoring, of course, at a federal level, to understand more the impact to Canada," Friesen said.
Airports in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal are screening passengers who have flu-like symptoms after travelling from Wuhan in central China, where the outbreak originated.
Friesen said Manitoba does not have any direct flights into the province from the infected area.
"That does not mean we are not concerned," he said, "but it does mean that our most significant efforts in terms of surveillance must take place at those ports of entry.
"Nevertheless, we are concerned," Friesen added. "We are co-ordinating our effort. We must be vigilant, and I continue to receive ongoing updates as we follow this emerging virus in China."
The U.S. on Tuesday reported its first case, saying a Washington state resident who returned last week from the outbreak’s epicentre was hospitalized near Seattle.
In addition to 258 cases in Wuhan, more than 20 people have been diagnosed in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangdong province in the south and Zhejiang in the east.
Four cases have been confirmed overseas among Chinese travellers in South Korea, Japan and Thailand.
Anxiety grew both at home and abroad after Chinese government expert Zhong Nanshan confirmed fears on state television late Monday that the new type of coronavirus can spread from human to human.
» firstname.lastname@example.org, with files from The Associated Press