As of April 10, 2003, Health Canada has received reports of 253 probable or suspect cases of SARS in Canada
As of April 10, 2003, Health Canada has received reports of 253 probable or suspect cases of SARS in CanadaAs of April 10, 2003, Health Canada has received reports of 253 probable or suspect cases of SARS in Canada. The details of the cases to date are as follows:
- Ontario – 111 probable and 95 suspect cases. All cases have occurred in persons who have travelled to Asia or had contact with SARS cases in the household or in a health-care setting.
- British Columbia – 3 probable and 32 suspect cases.
- New Brunswick – 2 suspect cases.
- Saskatchewan – 1 suspect case.
- Alberta – 5 suspect cases.
- Prince Edward Island – 4 suspect cases.
So far, 54 people have been discharged from hospitals in Ontario. These people were treated as suspect cases or as probable cases. Protecting Canada’s Blood SupplyHealth Canada issued formal direction to blood operators on April 10, 2003, as a precaution, to protect the blood supply in Canada and recipients from the possible threat of SARS.Although there is currently no evidence of transmission of SARS through blood and blood components, Health Canada has directed blood operators, to temporarily defer from donating blood from persons who have:
- Travelled within the previous 10 days to an affected area outside Canada.
- Been a patient, worked in, or visited a facility that is under quarantine for SARS.
Health Canada has requested that provincial public health officials, when investigating possible SARS cases, ask whether the individual has donated blood. Information for Travellers ExpandedBeginning Thursday, April 10th, as an added precautionary measure, Health Canada has arranged for in-flight distribution of the yellow health alert card by flight attendants to passengers on all direct flights from Hong Kong, Singapore and Beijing.Flight attendants will also ask passengers to fill out a traveller tracing form (also known as content information cards) that will enable health authorities to contact passengers over a two-week period after their arrival in Canada, if necessary. These forms must be filled out before clearing customs. This in-flight distribution will also be expanded to direct flights from other Asian destinations in the near future. Most Recent Travel Advisory InformationDue to the mounting concern about transmission of the SARS agent in non-hospital and community settings in the City of Hanoi, Vietnam; the People’s Republic of China including the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region; Singapore; and Taiwan, Health Canada recommends that people planning to travel to these areas defer all travel until further notice. Health Canada Support for Ontario
- Health Canada shipped 10,000 masks to Toronto as a stop-gap measure.
- Health Canada has deployed an additional eight personnel to Ontario to work with the Ontario team.
- On March 31, 2003, Health Canada sent two mobile x-ray machines and processors to Toronto for two isolation units being set up in non-hospital facilities.
- Health Canada is ready to respond to additional requests for support from Ontario and other provinces and territories.
Health Canada’s SARS Screening Initiative at Pearson Airport
- Since April 1, 2003, Health Canada has been informing all departing travellers from Pearson International Airport about SARS through the Health Alert Notice.
- The local airport authority has placed the Health Alert Notices and posters at strategic locations at the Pearson International Airport informing travellers who meet certain criteria to defer their flights.
- A Health Canada SARS Team of physicians and nurses have been deployed to Pearson to provide information to airline and airport staff.
- Passengers seeking further information are advised to call the Health Canada SARS Info Line at 1-800-454-8302.
Summary of Key Health Canada Activities to date
- Health Canada activities include 24-hour monitoring and surveillance of this disease in Canada and around the world.
- Continuous laboratory testing is underway at Health Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg in a race to find the cause of SARS.
- There are also increased visual screening measures for airline passengers, workplace health and safety initiatives, and prevention and promotion activities.
- Health Canada has expanded Health Alert Notice distribution at major airports in Canada. These Health Alert Notices ask passengers to see a physician if they begin to have any symptoms related to SARS. These symptoms include a fever over 38.0 degrees Celsius AND one or more of the following respiratory symptoms: cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.
- Health Canada has sent staff to Pearson, Vancouver and Dorval International Airports to support airport staff.
- Health Canada’s Workplace Health and Public Safety Programme (WPHSP) is providing advice to federal employers on occupational health and safety matters. Information sessions for federal employees are available, at the employer’s request.
- Health Canada is collaborating and coordinating efforts with our counterparts across Canada, including the Chief Medical Officers of Health in each province and territory. Health Canada is chairing five Working Groups made up of experts dealing with such issues as infection control, treatment guidelines and public health measures.
- Health Canada is providing expertise, advice, personnel, and medical supplies and equipment to Ontario.
- Health Canada is also in daily contact with our partners worldwide, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well the World Health Organisation (WHO) in an effort to try and find the source and cure for this syndrome.
- Health Canada’s collaboration is further facilitated with the presence of Health Canada staff at the WHO headquarters in Geneva. In addition, Health Canada and the CDC have exchanged staff members to work in each other’s Emergency Response Centres.
(Source: Health Canada; April 10, 2003, 5:00 pm)