Former Manitoba health chief won’t be surprised if province sees COVID-19 cases

Manitoba’s former chief public health officer says he won’t be surprised if COVID-19 makes its way to Manitoba, but noted that its transmission is “reasonably preventable” if people in this province follow basic preventative measures.

Dr. Joel Kettner told 680 CJOB regular handwashing and keeping your hands away from your mouth, nose and eyes can go a long way toward keeping yourself virus-free, although it’s not a guarantee.

“We’ve seen cases now in three provinces. Manitobans travel like everybody else,” said Kettner.

“We have a smaller population so the number of cases will be reflected or proportional, but also Winnipeg is not as much of a centre point for international travel as some of those other cities.

“I would be surprised if we didn’t have some cases of coronavirus. How many? I wouldn’t predict that.”

Kettner said some of the confusion around the virus comes from the two names that are used interchangeably — COVID-19 and coronavirus — but there’s a simple way to explain that.

“It is a coronavirus, a type of virus we’ve been familiar with in the past, but this is a very specific subtype of the coronavirus,” he said.

“We’ve had this experience with the SARS coronavirus, the Middle East Respiratory System coronavirus, and now we have what’s named Coronavirus Infectious Disease 19 (COVID-19) to designate that this is a specific type of coronavirus that we have not discovered or named before.”

Kettner said health officials are using an ‘abundance of caution’ in terms of warning people about the coronavirus’ incubation period, and that with most viruses of this type, an infected person will typically show symptoms within three or four days after exposure.

“Is it possible that one who is infected with the virus would have the virus on their hands? I think it’s not only possible, but quite likely.”

Washing your hands regularly and keeping your hands away from your face are key, he said.

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