Alberta's top doctor has provided another update on what the province is doing to prepare for the possibility of novel coronavirus.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Chief Medical Officer of Health, posted an update on the province's website Wednesday confirming there are still no probable or confirmed cases of novel coronavirus in Alberta.
Five cases have been confirmed in the rest of Canada.
Alberta Health's latest numbers show 18 people in the province had been tested for novel coronavirus as of Jan. 31, but none of those tests came back positive.
The current risk to Alberta is considered low by health officials.
Last week, the World Health Organization declared the virus, which has killed nearly 500 people, a public health emergency.
"Alberta’s health system is ready to respond effectively if needed. We have worked with AHS to provide frontline staff with the information they need to monitor and respond to potential cases," Hinshaw said in a statement. "We also continue to work closely with the Public Health Agency of Canada and our provincial partners.
She also addressed "many misconceptions" about how the virus is transmitted and its overall threat compared to other illnesses like the common flu.
She reminded Albertans they're much more likely to get the flu than coronavirus, and said the novel strain "does not appear to be as severe" as other coronaviruses like SARS.
"The virus is transmitted via larger droplets that fall quickly out of the air, such as through a cough or sneeze. The best current evidence indicates that it is not airborne through long distances or times," she said.
There are still no cases of the novel coronavirus in Alberta. The risk to Albertans is still low, but we’re taking the necessary steps to protect your health and ensure our health system is prepared. For the latest updates and info, visit https://t.co/Co6TbU4Peq— Tyler Shandro (@shandro) February 6, 2020
Masks can help if sick people wear them to prevent transmission, but there's not much evidence to suggest they keep health individuals safe from germs.
Albertans should wash their hands regularly, avoid touching their face and cover their mouth while coughing or sneezing.
Even though it hasn't been confirmed in the province, novel coronavirus has some minor sports leagues tapping out of traditional post-game handshakes and fist bumps to try to keep children safe.
Hinshaw asked anyone with questions or concerns about coronavirus or their health in general to call Health Link at 811.