Canada warns against use of anti-malarial drug chloroquine as coronavirus treatment

Canada said chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine can have serious side effects. PHOTO: AFP

MONTREAL (AFP, REUTERS) - Canadian health authorities have issued a warning against the use of anti-malarial drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine to treat coronavirus infections or prevent reinfections.

"Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine can have serious side effects. These drugs should be used only under the supervision of a physician," Canada's public health agency said in a note posted Saturday (April 25) on its website.

"Health Canada is concerned that some people may be directly buying and using chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine to prevent or treat Covid-19," it said, noting they can cause "serious heart rhythm problems."

The European Medicines Agency on Thursday issued a similar warning about the drugs, whose promise as a coronavirus treatment has been touted by US President Donald Trump.

Meanwhile the total number of people killed by the coronavirus in Canada rose by under 6% to 2,489 in a day, official data posted by the public health agency showed on Sunday.

The figure for those diagnosed with the coronavirus had climbed to 45,791, according to a statement. On Saturday there were 2,350 deaths and 44,364 positive diagnoses.

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