TORONTO, ON., March 2, 2020– Today, Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, provided an update on the novel coronavirus: COVID-19. With two more cases being confirmed today at a condo in Scarborough a total of 12 confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Toronto so far in 2020 and 8 more cases along with 45 under investigation in Ontario.
Regarding the two most recent GTA cases, Ministry of Health spokesperson Hayley Chazan said they are Scarborough residents who recently travelled to Iran and Egypt and both have been placed into self-isolation.
This brings Ontario’s total COVID-19 cases up to 20, with three so far making full recoveries. Most of these cases involve people who have travelled to Iran recently. Iran alone has over 2,000 cases of COVID-19.
Nine other COVID-19 cases exist in Canada and these are in B.C. and Quebec.
Sunday, Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health, had confirmed four new positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in Ontario then to 15 (now 20) with three of the cases including two in Toronto) being resolved.
According to Dr. Williams, “The latest confirmed positive case on Sunday was a male in his 50s and a Toronto resident temporarily living in Vaughan. He is the brother of one of Toronto’s recently reported cases who travelled to Iran. He did not develop symptoms until after arrival in Canada. He is currently in self-isolation and has had no community exposure. He was assessed and tested at Mackenzie Richmond Hill Hospital in Richmond Hill on Friday, February 28.
Dr. Williams also said “another positive case is a male in his 40s and the spouse of York Region’s first Iran travel-related case announced yesterday (Saturday). He had travelled with his wife and toddler but was asymptomatic on all flights. He was tested and assessed at Mackenzie Richmond Hill Hospital on Friday, February 28. He had self-isolated prior to developing symptoms and has had no community exposure while symptomatic.”
Another Ontario case is a third male in his 60s – who returned from Iran on Sunday, February 23, 2020. “He presented himself to North York General Hospital’s emergency department on Friday, February 28 where he informed the hospital of a cough and recent travel history. He was assessed and discharged home on the same day. As per protocols, he went into self-isolation where he remains with minimal contact with others. Toronto Public Health is actively engaged in contact tracing and case management,” said Williams.
The fourth person confirmed by Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health is a female in her 70s from Newmarket and a contact of the recently reported positive Egypt travel-related Toronto case. She was in Egypt with the known Toronto case. She was tested and assessed at SouthLake Regional Health Centre on Saturday, February 29. Since testing, she has been in self-isolation. York Region Public Health is working diligently on its usual process of risk assessment and contact follow up.
“Two of the people in Toronto have since recovered from their illness,” says Toronto’s Dr. Eileen de Villa, Medical Officer of Health.
Dr. Eileen de Villa also stated that the City continues “to carefully monitor this situation and encourage residents to stay informed by regularly reviewing credible information sources. Part of our current focus is to identify potential cases of COVID-19, to follow up with these people directly and to identify their close contacts. We use current evidence to assess potential health risk, provide education, further instructions and to reduce the potential of virus spread. We also do this work for measles, mumps, and hepatitis A, and not just for COVID-19. “
Five new Member States (Azerbaijan, Ecuador, Ireland, Monaco and Qatar) reported cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours and Ontario’s numbers have climbed to 18 cases. Also, the number of confirmed cases in Hubei province, China, has increased for two successive days after a period of decline. Despite these numbers World Health Organization officials on Tuesday defended their controversial decision not to declare a coronavirus pandemic, citing nations such has Brazil that have few or no confirmed cases.
In terms of Toronto, Dr. Eileen de Villa, medical officer of health says, “More countries are reporting cases of COVID-19. Given the global circumstances, we are actively working with the City and our provincial and federal health partners to plan for the potential of local spread. We are working with our local and provincial health system colleagues to set up increased local surveillance systems to quickly identify individuals possibly infected with COVID-19.
Should upcoming events be postponed?
“I continue to be asked if we would consider recommending postponement of events or limiting places where people gather in large numbers,” said Dr. de Villa. “These are significant measures that must be assessed, evaluated and taken only after we balance preventing the spread of infection with the need for people and communities to function. At this time, we are not recommending these approaches, but examples such as limiting non-essential public gatherings are public health measures that can be used to further protect our community, if our local situation changes.”
What actions can people take to prepare themselves?
If our local situation changes I think it is helpful to consider the supplies you may need at home if you became unwell with any illness, not just COVID-19,” said Dr. de Villa. “For families, this may mean considering your household needs and how you may address them if someone in your household becomes unwell. Things that people may consider include having supplies on-hand so you do not need to leave home if you become ill, or how to plan childcare needs. If the situation changes, other measures people can consider could include changing their daily routines to reduce their exposure to crowded places.”
One of the most important things residents can do to prepare is to stay informed by regularly reviewing credible information sources including our website toronto.ca/coronavirus. Residents can also call 416-338-7600, Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
More than 1,100 people have been tested for the COVID-19 virus in Ontario so far, with 1,061 samples coming back negative.
Dr. Williams says, “At this time, the virus is not circulating locally. However, given the global circumstances, Ontario is actively working with city and health partners to plan for the potential of local spread. The province continues to carefully monitor this situation and encourage residents to stay informed by regularly reviewing credible information sources.”