As COVID-19 continues to make people ill and spread to other countries, officials have issued a warning about a possible coronavirus pandemic in Canada. People are being told to stock up on essential items including non-perishable food and prescription medications. Eleven cases have already been confirmed in the country.
Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam said that the coronavirus situation is evolving quickly and that it appears the virus is now spreading in other countries at the community level.
"It also tells countries like Canada, that have been able to manage and detect cases so far, that we have to prepare across governments, across communities, and as families and individuals, in the event of more widespread transmission in our community."
Dr. Vera Etches, the City of Ottawa’s top health officer, agreed with this statement, telling the Ottawa Citizen that Canadians should consider stocking up on prescriptions and non-perishables they may need if someone becomes ill.
While the possibility of COVID-19 reaching pandemic level has been acknowledged, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is not ready to call it that yet.
"Does this virus have pandemic potential? Absolutely it has. Are we there yet? From our assessment, not yet," he said, per CBC News.
Canadians at home and abroad have already faced quarantines due to the outbreak. People evacuated from China and brought to CFB Trenton in Ontario were isolated for 14 days.
Similarly, Canadian passengers aboard the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship faced a two-week quarantine before flying home and having to go through another one.
Seven cases have been confirmed in British Columbia. Four have also been found in Ontario.