Protocols in place to protect Guelph residents from coronavirus: Public Health

Guelph’s public health unit says lessons learned following the 2003 SARS outbreak are being used when it comes to the potentially deadly coronavirus.

Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health said protocols are in place should the infection make its way into the region after it originated in Wuhan, China.

Dr. Matthew Tenenbaum, associate medical officer of health, said the actions being implemented locally and internationally are based upon what was learned from SARS and other viruses such as MERS.

“Really taking a very precautious approach to apply those lessons to something new until we learn more about it specifically,” he said on Friday afternoon.

“Since SARS, we actually have a much more robust system. From what I can tell, it’s operating the way it should in a scenario like this.”

Public Health has been in contact with hospitals and primary care clinics on how suspected cases should be handled.

Patients with respiratory-related symptoms are having their travel history screened, preferably over the phone, and those patients who have recently travelled to Wuhan are being referred directly to the emergency department.

Tenenbaum said hospital staff are being urged to use “airborne precautions” if they are handling suspected coronavirus cases.

“Previous coronaviruses like MERS, SARS and the common cold are not necessarily transmitted through this airborne route and they would require a different kind of mask that is less protective,” Tenenbaum explained.

“Out of an abundance of caution, the Ministry of Health has recommended that until we know more about this virus, we use the more advanced and protective gear.”

He said the local public health unit is also following provincial processes that have been set out by the Ministry of Health.

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