Saturday, March 28, 2020

First case of Wuhan novel coronavirus confirmed in Ontario

Federal and provincial officials have confirmed the first presumptive case of Wuhan novel coronavirus in Ontario.

Provincial officials say on Thursday, January 23, 2020, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto admitted a patient brought in by paramedics who presented with fever and respiratory symptoms.

The patient was screened, recent travel history to Wuhan, China, was confirmed and the patient was immediately put under isolation.

The hospital and paramedic service took all necessary precautions to ensure the safety of staff and other patients, provincial officials say.

Diagnostic testing was conducted, and specimens were sent to the Public Health Ontario Laboratory to confirm the diagnosis.

On Saturday, January 25, 2020, the Public Health Lab confirmed the case as a presumptive positive case.

“All appropriate infection prevention and control measures were followed by both paramedics and the hospital,” stated Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health.

“Toronto Public Health is conducting case and contact management and Ontario is in touch with our federal counterparts to help determine exposure to other individuals on the flights.”

Recently, to strengthen the province’s ability to monitor any coronavirus cases, the Ministry of Health added novel coronavirus as a designated disease reportable under Ontario’s public health legislation.

Because of this, and other protocol and procedures that Ontario has in effect, the case was quickly identified and protocols for protection of health care workers and the public was immediately enacted.

“Although there is now a presumptive confirmed case of novel coronavirus in Ontario, I want Ontarians to know that the province is prepared to actively identify, prevent and control the spread of this serious infectious disease in Ontario,” stated Christine Elliott, Ontario’s Health Minister .

“I want Ontarians to know that their health and wellbeing is my top concern. Ontario has robust processes in place, skilled clinicians and dedicated health workers to identify and manage this and any future cases safely and effectively. We have specialized units within our hospitals to deal specifically with these types of cases when they arise.”

The ministry has been and will remain in constant contact with the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and other jurisdictions to monitor the developing situation and safeguard the health of all Ontarians, as well as to ensure our shared efforts to protect the public are coordinated and effective.

To help educate Ontarians about Wuhan novel coronavirus, how they can protect themselves and what to do if they suspect they may be at risk, the province has launched a dedicated webpage, here.

Moving forward, each weekday this web page will be updated with the most up-to-date information on the number of cases under investigation and those that have been confirmed.

Canada’s Health Minister Patty Hajdu said this case is the first case in Canada, pending confirmation of the result by PHAC’s National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg.

“The Government of Canada has been working closely with provincial and territorial counterparts, and international partners, since China first reported 2019-nCoV cases to ensure that our country is prepared to limit the spread of 2019-nCoV in Canada,” Hajdu said in a statement.

“Canadian hospitals have strong infection control systems and procedures in place to limit the spread of infection and protect health care workers.”

Hajdu said measures to mitigate the risk of introduction and spread of diseases like the new coronavirus in Canada are in place, including messaging on arrival screens at the Toronto, Montréal and Vancouver international airports reminding travellers to inform a Border Services Officer if they are experiencing flu-like symptoms, and an additional health screening question on electronic kiosks used by international travellers.

“While the risk of an outbreak of novel coronavirus in Canada remains low, I encourage Canadians to tell your health care professional if you have travelled to an affected area of China, and develop flu-like symptoms,” Hajdu said.

“You can find more information about the 2019 Novel Coronavirus online at Canada.ca/coronavirus.”

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