Bonus Minicast #5

Coronavirus: What You Need To Know, with Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti


Guest: Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti

Physician, Infectious Diseases & Tropical Medicine.

Key Takeaways

  • Coronaviruses are a group of viruses that cause the common cold. Coronavirus 2019-nCoV is a strain of the virus that originated in China, and that has received significant media coverage at times bordering on hysteria.

  • For healthcare workers, the most important thing is to identify and isolate patients at risk of the virus (travel to Hubei Province in China) or contact with a person suspected to have the virus

  • It is too soon to say the ultimate impact of the disease, and whether we will see more widespread person to person transmission of the virus outside of China

A Closer Look

Coronaviruses are responsible for many common colds. In China, where close proximity between people and with animals increases the likelihood of mutations of the virus, Coronavirus 2019-nCoV is a strain that has caused global concern given is suspected higher infectivity, as well as some deaths.

The outbreak was first identified in Wuhan, China in December of 2019. The Chinese responded quickly, and sequenced the virus and shared that information with other health agencies worldwide. This has helped allow for a more rapid and coordinated response in Canada, compared to previous outbreaks like the SARS outbreak in 2003.


As of February 1st, 2020, there are an estimated 12000 cases worldwide. There have only been 2 confirmed cases in Ontario, Canada as of February 1st, 2020 as per the Ontario public health website. There have been no documented cases of person to person transmission in Canada.

The key to preventing more spread of the virus is infection control: healthcare workers and patients must first identify those at risk for the virus. These include people who have travelled to the Hubei Province in China, or those in contact with someone suspected or confirmed to have the virus. Once identified, patients should be isolated in an airborne room. For healthcare workers, enhanced PPE should be used including gown, gloves, N95 respirator, goggles, face-shield


For patients, it can be challenging to determine whether symptoms are related to the Coronavirus 2019-nCoV as it is also flu season, and the symptoms can be identical. If based on travel history or exposure to someone who is suspected to have the virus that symptoms could be consistent with Cornoavirus 2019-nCoV it is worth calling the local public health office for information, or the hospital prior to coming to the emergency department to protect yourself, healthcare workers, and other patients.


Most importantly, the solving healthcare team encourages our listeners and readers to access high quality information about the virus through the Canadian Public Health Service.

Further Readings

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