May 15, 2014
By Jane Brown
Good news from the Public Health Agency of Canada. A doctor who came to Canada after having contact with a MERS patient in Florida has tested negative for the disease. The unidentified physician is being asked to stay in this country for a few more days until the agency is confident he’s not infected with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome and is safe to travel.
MERS is being compared to the SARS virus that led to 44 deaths in the Toronto area in 2003. Doctor Mary Vearncombe was in charge of infection control at Sunnybrook Hospital during the SARS outbreak. She tells CP24, “we’ve had ten years since SARS to upgrade our infection control practices. We’re much better at picking up acute respiratory infections when they come into our emergency departments. The behaviour of the healthcare workers is very different, certainly in Ontario now, so they’ll put on protective equipment. We will avoid getting into the same kind of situation we got into with SARS.”
Since it was discovered two years ago, MERS has killed about 175 people and sickened hundreds more. Most of the cases have been in Saudi Arabia.