MAHC Monitors New Coronavirus

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Global concern about the new coronavirus, a respiratory virus with pneumonia-like symptoms, is growing and Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare (MAHC) is monitoring this situation closely. MAHC has infection prevention and control policies and protocols in place and is working with health-care partners, including the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, to ensure the region is prepared. Safety of our patients and staff is most important.

What is a coronavirus?

A coronavirus typically causes symptoms that are similar to those of the common cold, however, it can also cause more severe illness including pneumonia and death. The Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) virus was a type of coronavirus. A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain previously not identified in humans.

What are the symptoms?

Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever (may not be present), cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.

How is a case confirmed?

The only way to confirm this new coronavirus is with a lab test. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), symptoms of the virus may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 after exposure.

How can it be prevented?

There is no vaccine to prevent the infection, however everyday preventive actions can help to stop the spread of this coronavirus, in fact, any respiratory virus:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue away
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
  • Stay home if you are sick

What specifically is MAHC doing?

MAHC has implemented a number of protocols. In addition to continuous surveillance we have:

  • Enhanced screening measures: Patients are already screened at entry points of care such as the Emergency Department and outpatient clinics. This includes questions about flu-like symptoms, cough and travel within the past two weeks. Patients with a travel history to high-risk areas in China, or those who have had contact with anyone who travelled to China and is unwell, will trigger additional screening, protection and care in a negative pressure room.
  • Patients with symptoms and travel history will be masked, placed in isolation and cared for by employees wearing appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) including contact, droplet and airborne precautions.
  • Updated signage at our entrances and are asking patients and visitors to put on a mask if they have  flu-like symptoms, such as a fever, flu-like symptoms, muscle pain, new or worsening cough, and/or shortness of breath, and have travelled from China or another affected area recently.
  • MAHC is in frequent contact with public health and is participating in a regional committee to ensure preparedness. We also hold frequent internal meetings in heighted times of flux.

What will happen if a patient with the virus comes to MAHC?

Through our screening process, the patient will be identified, required to put on a mask, placed in isolation, and cared for by a team wearing appropriate PPE. MAHC will follow the public health guidelines for treatment.

If you are feeling unwell AND have travelled from China or another affected area in the past 14 days or have been in close contact with a person who has and is unwell, you should be assessed by a health-care provider. If at all possible, make sure to call ahead to let them know you’re coming to further ensure appropriate precautions ahead of arrival.

Where to go for more information:

Read more information from the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit

Read more information from the Ministry of Health

Disease Outbreak News from the World Health Organization

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