Ontario health officials say there is a second presumptive case of coronavirus in the province.
The wife of the provinces first case of Wuhan novel coronavirus has tested positive at Ontarios public health laboratory, Dr. David Williams, chief medical officer of health, said in a statement Monday. Since arriving in Toronto with her husband, she has been in self-isolation, Dr. Williams said.
“We are working alongside Toronto Public Health, who has been in regular contact with the individual during their self-isolation period,” Dr. Williams said. “Given the fact that she has been in self-isolation, the risk to Ontarians remains low.”
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Travellers are seen wearing masks at the international arrivals area at the Toronto Pearson Airport on Jan. 26.
COLE BURSTON/AFP/Getty Images
Health officials confirmed the first presumptive case of coronavirus on Saturday. On Sunday, Canadas chief public officer of health Theresa Tam told a news conference that a Toronto man, who is the first person in the country to test positive for the SARS-like coronavirus, was symptomatic on an airplane last week that arrived in Toronto from Guangzhou. On Monday, the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg is expected to verify that the man has the coronavirus. Tests by Ontarios public-health lab on Saturday said the man tested positive for it.
Health officials are working to contact passengers seated within a two-metre radius of the man to inform them of the risks and advise them to monitor for the development of any symptoms.
Global concern over the coronavirus, known as 2019-nCoV, has been mounting since Dec. 31, when Chinese officials first reported it to the World Health Organization. As of Sunday, the virus has sickened more than 2,000 and caused at least 80 deaths. The vast majority illnesses are in China, but the virus has also spread to Europe, Australia and North America.
Despite reassurances from Dr. Tam and other health officials that the coronavirus poses a very low risk to Canadians, some have taken to social media to question Canadas response and spread misinformation about the virus, presenting health officials with a new challenge of quelling growing public unease.
Susy Hota, medical director of infection prevention and control at Torontos University Health Network, said many concerned people with no symptoms have been showing up to the hospital, worried that they could be infected.
Theres just a ton of fear, Dr. Hota said.
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In Vancouver, Caroline Ku, a woman with a depressed immune system, said she was terrified” of the new coronavirus reaching British Columbia. She wore a mask when she attended a parade as part of the Lunar New Year celebrations.
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I cant risk infection cold, flu, coughs. And the thing is, there is so much stuff [about the new coronavirus] on the internet that we dont know what is fake, Ms. Ku said.
In a note sent to staff on Saturday, Andy Smith, the president of Torontos Sunnybrook Hospital, where the man is being treated, highlighted the problem of misinformation and said the hospital will make every effort to be open and transparent.
The Toronto patient, a man in his 50s who had recently travelled to Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak, landed at Pearson Airport on Wednesday. He departed from Guangzhou on China Southern Airlines Flight 311 on Tuesday. While he was on the plane, he experienced a dry cough and muscle aches, said Eileen de Villa, Torontos medical officer of health.
The day after he arrived, he called 911 when his illness worsened. He informed the dispatcher of his symptoms and recent visit to Wuhan, which allowed paramedics and hospital officials to take the proper precautions, such as wearing masks, eyeglasses and gowns. Since then, the man has been in stable condition in isolation at Torontos Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.
The patient will not be discharged until we can be assured that they are making a full recovery and no longer pose any risk to public health,” Jerome Leis, medical director of infection prevention and control at Sunnybrook, said on Sunday.
Only those who were seated in close proximity to the man are being contacted by health officials because the risk to others is low, Dr. Tam said. According to scientific evidence, the coronavirus is spread by droplets, so the people who face the highest risk of infection would be those in close contact with the infected individual for prolonged periods, she said.
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Dr. de Villa said passengers contacted by health officials will not be placed under quarantine. Instead, they will be told to monitor for the development of fever, cough or any other symptoms for the next 14 days and be in contact with health authorities if they develop.
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