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Coronavirus concerns affect travel from China and limit export of Maritime products
HALIFAX -- It's business as usual in Dr. Zhenyu Cheng's lab at the Microbiology department of Dalhousie University. A health researcher by profession, Dr. Chung routinely studies everything from the biology of cancer to antibiotic persistence.
Born and raised in Wuhan, China, Cheng says friends and family aren't taking the coronavirus outbreak lightly.
“They are taking all the appropriate precautions: washing hands frequently, wearing masks when they go out,” says microbiology assistant professor, Cheng.
It is the same story in much of China, where dozens of people have died and thousands of others have been infected. The fast-spreading virus has caused millions of people to be barred from travel and instructed to stay home for at least two weeks.
The travel-restrictions are the most far-reaching ever imposed by China, and it turns out it’s having an impact in the Maritimes.
On Monday, Halifax Stanfield International Airport confirmed seafood shipments are being impacted by the restrictions in China, which will likely remain for the coming weeks – putting a damper on the shipments, which usually happen two to three times a week. The airport and the carrier are monitoring the situation.
Health authorities acknowledge international-travel is the biggest risk in bringing the virus to the Maritimes and note any possible cases that occur will be dealt with quickly.
“We're going to do the appropriate testing with the appropriate infection control,” says Cheng. “Both for the patient and for the healthcare worker in place to minimize the spread – then we'll take it from there."
New Brunswick also says it's constantly in contact with other top officials – monitoring communicable diseases via the provincial surveillance system. It's also created a webpage, providing specific information about coronavirus.
Also watching closely is Dr. Cheng, who admits he's been calling home more frequently than usual in the days since the virus came to his attention.
“Now it’s almost every day I keep in touch with my friends and family,” says Cheng.