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Canadian officials closely monitoring mysterious virus based in China

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  • Canadian officials closely monitoring mysterious virus based in China


    Canadian officials closely monitoring mysterious virus based in China
    Elizabeth Payne
    Updated: January 6, 2020

    Seventeen years after SARS killed 44 Canadians and sickened hundreds of others, Canadian officials are closely monitoring a new potential threat — a mysterious virus based in China that has caused atypical pneumonia in at least 59 people...

    ...Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam has been in touch with provincial and territorial public health officials, the World Health Organization and other international partners to discuss the mysterious virus, said Eric Morrissette, spokesman for the Public Health Agency of Canada.

    The Ontario Ministry of Health is also monitoring the situation, said spokesman David Jensen.

    “As the situation develops, the ministry will continue to assess and determine whether any further action is needed,” said Jensen...

    ...But the virus in Wuhan should serve as a wakeup call about the implications of overcrowding in Ontario hospitals for outbreaks or a pandemic, said Dr. Alan Drummond, a Perth emergency physician who is co-chair of public affairs for the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians.

    Ontario is not ready for such a public health crisis, said Drummond, who has been raising awareness about hospital overcrowding in the province and across Canada. Drummond said Ontario would be highly vulnerable during a new pandemic because of chronically overcrowded hospitals...

    ...“I would worry greatly that the best laid plans of mice and men are going to be scuppered because we do not have bed capacity.”

    Hospitals are so overcrowded that Drummond said he could foresee military tents having to be set up in some hospital parking lots to deal with surge capacity if Ontario was hit by a serious pandemic.

    In order to have safe occupancy rates and allow for busier periods, Drummond said hospitals should be operating around 85 per cent capacity most of the time. But in Ontario, most hospitals are closer to 100 per cent capacity or higher. In Ottawa, that has had a cascading impact on ambulances, which have been forced to repeatedly declare Code Zero, meaning no ambulances are available, because paramedics are waiting for patients to be admitted.

    “The Code Zeroes for ambulances are bad now. How bad is it going to be if we have a pandemic?”

    The Ontario Hospital Association recently published a report outlining the impact of years of flatlined and insufficient funding for hospitals in the province and noted that Ontario has fewer hospital beds per 1,000 people than any other Canadian province and fewer beds than any other country in the world except Mexico, with which it is tied...