CALGARY -- Even though a presumptive case of the 2019-novel coronavirus has been found in Toronto, Alberta health authorities say the risk of infection remains "low" in our province.

Alberta's Chief Medical Officer of Heath, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, posted a statement Saturday, saying officials are continuing to survey all the developments in the illness that began in Wuhan late last year.

A presumptive case of 2019-novel coronavirus was announced in Ontario on January 25. The case is travel-related, and the current risk to Albertans of contracting the coronavirus is still low. Our ability to identify travel-related cases and prevent the infection from spreading is exactly what our surveillance systems are designed to do.

There are no cases of 2019-novel coronavirus in Alberta. We are testing for the novel-coronavirus, and will continue doing so. At this stage, we are acting out of an excess of caution even when the likelihood of exposure, based on history, is small or improbable.

We’re continuing to work with the Public Health Agency of Canada to monitor the situation in China, Canada, and around the world. Alberta Health and Alberta Health Services are working to ensure that Alberta’s health system is ready to respond effectively if needed.

Respiratory infections are much more likely to be caused by a common virus, such as influenza. If, however, any Albertan has specific concerns about being exposed or possible symptoms related to the novel coronavirus, I encourage them to call Health Link at 811 or contact their health provider.

AHS says, at this point, the new coronavirus does not appear to be as severe as other known coronaviruses like SARS.

It says people can best protect themselves from contracting it as well as all other viruses by:

  • use good hygiene practices, such as frequent handwashing
  • get a flu shot
  • consult the Travel Health Notice for China if travelling abroad before leaving the country
  • contact your primary health provider or 811 Health Link if you have questions or concerns about your health

Further information can be found on the AHS website.