Medical officer of health says coronavirus risk low

Article content

Norfolk and Haldimand’s medical officer of health is giving assurances that the danger from the so-called novel coronavirus is remote.

Dr. Shanker Nesathurai said the Canadian medical system has learned a lot in recent year about controlling communicable diseases. As such, health-care professionals are ready and know what to do now that they have been directed to contain this pathogen.

“One core message I’d like to share – the risk to the people of Haldimand and Norfolk of getting ill from novel coronavirus is low,” the doctor said Feb. 4 at the monthly meeting of the Haldimand-Norfolk Board of Health.

The coronavirus family includes pathogens with a range of severity and morbidity. The virus that causes the common cold is a coronavirus, Nesathurai said, adding these viruses can also cause more serious ailments such as bronchitis, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and pneumonia.


Story continues below

Article content

If local residents want to nurse a little anxiety in their life, Nesathurai said their energy would be better spent considering their odds of perishing in a motor-vehicle crash.

The doctor noted that 20 people died in crashes in Haldimand and Norfolk in 2019. For a population of 110,000, he said this works out to about one fatality per 5,000 people.

Nesathurai took the occasion of the Feb. 4 meeting to remind the public of the critical role flu shots and other vaccinations play in promoting and preserving public health. People who pay meticulous attention in this area not only protect their health and that of their family. Dr. Nesathurai said they also perform a vital public service.

“When you immunize a child, you are protecting the small group of people who cannot be immunized,” he said. “When I think of people who get vaccines for themselves and their children, they are not only protecting themselves, they are advancing an important community interest.”

Word of the novel coronavirus emerged in December. Indications are it arose in a large, diverse market in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

The market in question has a history of selling exotic wildlife for human consumption. The virus is believed to have made the jump to humans from wild bats by way of an unknown intermediary.

The world-wide death toll from novel coronavirus was nearing 500 as of Dec. 5. By Monday this week, the number of deaths had climbed to over 900. The vast majority of cases and deaths have been within China itself. Four cases have been confirmed in Canada, with all having a travel connection to China by way of Wuhan.

Symptoms for novel coronavirus are similar to the flu and common cold and range from mild to severe depending on the person and their immune response.

News Near Tillsonburg

This Week in Flyers