News of the Wuhan coronavirus appears to be inspiring travellers in Canada to take extra precautions. This weekend, Canada confirmed its first case. The patient, a 50-year-old man, had recently travelled to Wuhan before flying back to Toronto. He is reported to be in stable condition. His wife was confirmed as the second presumptive case in Canada on Monday afternoon.
According to Ontario’s public health website, a further 19 people are currently under investigation in the province.
In Vancouver and Toronto, where there are a high number of direct flights to China, many pharmacies can’t keep up with the demand for N95 and surgical masks.
The pharmacy I work in, here in Toronto, has been selling the surgical masks fast in the last couple of days. I ordered 20 for Friday, but only 12 were shipped. The rest were back ordered.— BatmanAndRobert (@MacDoug1) January 25, 2020
Went to 5 drug stores in my city to buy surgical masks. All sold out. Nobody knows when shelves will be restocked. Was heading to Toronto so called ahead to numerous stores. All sold out. Try and buy surgical masks online. You won’t find any. And I’m not supposed to panic.— Cristina (@Cricrifi) January 27, 2020
my mom called today to tell me that surgical masks are sold out in toronto pic.twitter.com/1Kvc4IwmER— rebecca alter (@ralter) January 27, 2020
As Ontario’s chief medical officer of health confirms first “presumptive positive” case of #coronavirus in Toronto - first in Canada - staff at Rexall pharmacy at Queen + University say surgical masks are on back order pic.twitter.com/23GrQxZznc— Rachel Browne (@rp_browne) January 25, 2020
bruh all the medical face masks are sold out in Vancouver imma get that virus n die. Imma have to stick with the normal black ones for now— lexi (@winterxo_lol) January 24, 2020
OoOoK so the coronavirus... people in Vancouver are reselling medical grade face masks for $75 on WeChat because they’re sold out everywhere.— Cheery ♡ (@cheeryio) January 24, 2020
Great. I have to fly out from Vancouver Intl. airport Saturday. All pharmacies are out of masks.— cabin cat (@Soozr1) January 23, 2020
Though lots of places are sold out of masks in Vancouver, but wash your hands more often will always help! https://t.co/qVwHzD2UWM— Taiwan in Vancouver (@TW_Vancouver) January 23, 2020
The masks, which are made of paper or other non-woven materials, are secured around a person’s ear to cover the mouth. They’re meant to reduce the spread of a virus through droplets by way of sneezing or coughing. Many doctor offices require patients to wear them if they are exhibiting signs of a flu or cold.
Stephen Hoption Cann is an epidemiologist in the school of population and public health at the University of British Columbia. He describes the masks as “not highly efficient.” And despite the recent cases, Canada has a system in place to contain any type of outbreak. Still, Hoption Cann says there is no harm in taking the same steps you would when avoiding the flu.
“If you want to protect yourself from the coronavirus...regularly wash your hands and if you’re out in public and you touch surfaces, keep your hands away from your face,” he tells Yahoo Canada.
If you want to be extra heedful, be mindful when touching doorknobs and light switches or any other surfaces that can be contaminated. Use a paper towel to turn off taps and when flushing a toilet. Avoid public gatherings and distance yourself from anyone who is currently sick.
Hoption Canns says if wearing a mask manages to keep your hands out of your nose and mouth, then there’s no harm in it.
“It’s not foolproof but if you feel more comfortable, that’s fine too.”
It’s not uncommon to see surgical masks as a trend in many Asian countries. On a recent season of Netflix’s Queer Eye, which was filmed in Japan, comedian Naomi Watanabe broke down some of the reasons Japanese people often wear these masks. These included being sick, wanting to avoid being sick, allergies, being famous and wanting to hide, and staying warm.