The Windsor Essex County Health Unit (WECHU) is providing an update on the situation around the novel Coronavirus. Currently there are over 40,000 confirmed cases worldwide and >900 deaths. It is important to recognize that 99% of these cases originate from China. Windsor and Essex County has no confirmed cases at this time. The risk of exposure to WEC residents remains low. Influenza continues to be a greater risk within our community and clients should be encouraged to protect themselves by getting immunized.
The case definition for 2019-nCoV has recently expanded the exposure criteria to include all travellers returning from mainland China. Persons under investigation (PUI) now include:
Any person with fever and/or cough or difficulty breathing AND any of the following:
- Travel to mainland China in the 14 days before onset of illness
- Close contact with a confirmed or probable case of 2019-nCoV
- Close contact with a person with acute respiratory illness who has been to mainland China within 14 days prior to their illness onset
In addition, the Public Health Agency of Canada has updated guidance for travellers. It is now recommended that travellers who have been to Hubei province limit their contact with others for 14 days following arrival in Canada (self-isolation). These travellers are also asked to contact local public health upon arrival. Should recent travellers from Hubei present to office, please direct the client to contact the WECHU for self-isolation instructions.
It is anticipated that the revised case definition will impact the number of individuals requiring testing and challenge the capacity of our local emergency rooms and hospitals. In preparation for this surge and to reduce the risk of possible future exposures, the WECHU is highly recommending that all health care providers be N95 mask fit tested in preparation for screening and testing of symptomatic individuals that meet the case definition. For detailed processes to support the management of PUIs, please visit the WECHU website’s Novel Coronavirus page in the “For Professionals” resource section.
The 2019-nCoV is considered a disease of public health significance and therefore all cases meeting the above case definition must be reported to the WECHU immediately by calling 519-258-2146, ext. 1420 or 519-973-4510 for after-hours support. The novel Coronavirus investigation and reporting form included in this communication (and also available on our website) must also be completed and submitted. The WECHU also suggests that if symptomatic clients, with a travel history to China within the last 14 days, were seen and assessed but not tested based on the previous case definition, that the cases be reviewed and considered under the details of the new case definition and updated travel recommendations.
Please continue to refer to the WECHU’s landing page at www.wechu.org/coronavirus for reliable, up-to-date information. The WECHU continues to monitor the situation and collaborate with key community partners and local health care providers to ensure that all of the necessary precautions and plans are in place to minimize the impact of novel coronavirus.
Feel free to reach out to me directly or to my team if you have any questions or concerns about this communication.
Dr. Wajid Ahmed, MBBS, MAS, MSc, FRCPC
Medical Officer of Health