Avoid double-cheek kisses, handshakes, health minister says

Quebec Health Minister Danielle McCann says with one presumptive case of COVID-19 detected in Montreal, people should start thinking about taking precautions like frequent hand washing and avoiding greeting people with a double kiss on the cheeks.

Handshakes and the two-cheek kiss are “our traditional, cultural way to do it but maybe sometimes it’s better to have different ways,” she told CBC Montreal’s Daybreak on Friday. “It avoids spreading. Because the hands are really a vector to spread those viruses.”

McCann said people should wash their hands as many times as possible with soap and avoid touching their faces.

At the same time, she said that “the risk is weak for Canadians, for Quebecers.”

“There is no reason at this point to be panicking,” she added.

She said people should remain vigilant and take measures to protect themselves, but with the knowledge that “our network is very ready to give the proper care.”

McCann said that beyond the fact that there is only one presumptive case in the province, “most people who would be affected by the COVID-19 would have lighter symptoms. It’s the minority who require hospitalization and we have already identified four hospitals who would receive those patients.”

Those hospitals are the Jewish General, Sainte-Justine, Quebec Heart and Lung Institute and Université Laval Hospital Centre.

First presumptive case in Montreal

Quebec’s first presumptive case of the coronavirus was detected in a woman who recently returned from a trip to Iran, McCann announced on Thursday.

A diagnosis is considered presumptive until confirmed by the National Microbiology Lab (NML) in Winnipeg. McCann said those results are expected Sunday.

The woman took a plane from Iran to Qatar before arriving at the Montreal airport on Monday. She immediately went to an outpatient clinic in the Montreal region with minor symptoms and was quickly given a mask upon entering.

The patient was then put in isolation at a nearby hospital where the proper infection-control measures were implemented.

The woman did not take public transit to get to the clinic, and hadn’t gone back to work since returning from Iran. She is now in isolation at home.


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