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Novel Coronavirus: Update #2

WAHA is monitoring and stepping up preparedness measures

On January 30, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a public health emergency of international concern which advises countries and health-care providers to increase monitoring and screening, and step up preparedness measures.

We are fully engaged with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, Public Health Ontario and the Porcupine Health Unit regarding all developments related to the Novel Coronavirus 2019 (2019-nCoV).

Corona viruses typically cause mild symptoms like the common cold, but this specific virus has impacted approximately 7,000 people mainly in China. To date, the virus has caused 170 deaths worldwide, with a low mortality rate of 2%.

In comparison there have been an estimated 8,000-20,000 flu deaths alone in the United States this flu season.

In Canada, the risk level remains low (Toronto: 2 confirmed cases, Vancouver: 1 confirmed case). Persons at risk remain only those who have travelled to/from China’s Hubei Province.

Here’s what we have done so far to communicate and prepare:


  1. WAHA leadership and management continues to engage in regular communications with the Porcupine Health Unit as part of the provincial system of monitoring and preparedness. We receive and share the most up-to-date information to our staff and our coastal community leaders.
  2. On Wednesday, January 29, 2020 we sent an informational email to all Community Health Directors and posted a community message on our Facebook page ( and website (
  3. We will continue to update communities via Facebook and direct emails to community health leaders.
  4. At this point in time, the risk level remains low for Canadians. There are two confirmed cases in Toronto and one in Vancouver.


  1. We have enhance surveillance and screening measures for all patients accessing our facilities. (Began January 25, 2020)
  2. Our staff are well prepared in communicable disease control and manage communicable respiratory illnesses routinely, like influenza (flu).
  3. Manager and Directors have ensured their staff are up to date on the key preparedness activities, education essentials and related best practices.
  4. WAHA staff are prepared to receive any patient with a respiratory illness of any kind, including influenza or Novel Coronavirus.
  5. Patients at risk who present with the following symptoms will be assessed and isolated immediately:
    • Respiratory symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath) AND
    • Travel to/from Hubei Province, China in the 14 days before onset of illness OR
    • Close contact with a person with confirmed or probably case of Novel Coronavirus OR
    • Close contact with a person with an acute respiratory illness who has travelled to/from Hubei Province, China in the 14 days before symptoms began.

We strongly encourage community leaders and members to seek information from legitimate , evidence-based websites like Public Health Ontario, Porcupine Health Unit or our Facebook page and website.

Read the latest Novel Coronavirus community update from Sandra Kioke, our Vice President, Community Services and interim Vice President, Clinical Services/Chief Nursing Executive (PDF)

Read our first Novel Coronavirus update from January 27, 2020