World isn’t ready for coronavirus outbreak, says Canadian WHO expert

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A man holds a baby while walking by the entrance of Zekai Tahir Burak Hospital where 17 passengers of a Turkish Airlines flight from Tehran, suspected of having coronavirus, were to be quarantined, in Ankara, Turkey, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. All 132 passengers of Tehran-Istanbul flight and crew on board will be quarantined for 14 days at the same hospital where Turkish citizens returning from China had been quarantined.( AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)

OTTAWA  A renowned Canadian epidemiologist who led a team of experts to China to study the novel coronavirus on behalf of the World Health Organization says other countries are not ready for a global outbreak.

Dr. Bruce Aylward returned from a two-week mission to China, including the city of Wuhan where the spread of the coronavirus began, urging other countries to get ready for a potential outbreak within their own borders as soon as possible.

He says countries should be looking to China for expertise in how to manage and treat the disease now known as COVID-19, noting that country has taken an aggressive approach to testing, containing and treating people who contract the coronavirus.

He warned the spread of the virus seems inevitable, and urged all countries to make sure hospitals increase their bed capacity and have enough ventilators for the very sick.

He says they should also prepare to quarantine large numbers of people who come into contact with those who have confirmed cases of the disease.

Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam said Monday that Canada’s priority is delaying a potential outbreak for as long as possible, but the health system is also getting ready to respond should one happen here.

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