COVID-19: Quebec adds five countries to watch list as disease spreads internationally

MONTREAL — The international spread of a new coronavirus has prompted Quebec health officials to begin observing more travellers for possible symptoms of the disease.

The officials decided on Tuesday to add South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Italy and Iran to a watch list of countries that formerly only included China and Hong Kong. If a person goes to a Quebec hospital with symptoms that could be associated with the new coronavirus, COVID-19, and they have recently visited one of the listed countries, they will be tested, a spokesperson for the health ministry said.

The lengthened list of countries is likely to increase the number of people tested for the disease in Quebec. The health ministry on Tuesday was monitoring seven people in Quebec as possible cases. But 52 people have been tested since the start of the outbreak — none of them had coronavirus.

The disease has, in recent days, spread to numerous countries to the alarm of observers. New cases of the disease have appeared recently in Iran and Italy. South Korea has also seen a stream of cases. The international spread of COVID-19 has sparked a global response to the disease which originated in China.

As of Tuesday afternoon, there haven’t been any positive cases of COVID-19 in Quebec. There have been 11 in Canada.  

SYMPTOMS OF COVID-19

According to the Quebec health department, symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, coughing and difficulty breathing.

They can present in a mild manner, similar to a cold, or more severely, similar to symptoms associated with pneumonia and respiratory or kidney failure.

People most at risk of complications are those with a weakened immune system or chronic disease and the elderly.

All Quebecers who have returned from Hubei province in China are asked to self-isolate and monitor themselves for 14 days after leaving the province.

In addition, they are requested to call Info-Santé at 811 to alert public health authorities within 24 hours of their return.

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