19 people under observation for possible coronavirus infection; second 'presumptive' case found
Chris Herhalt, CP24.com
Published Monday, January 27, 2020 7:09AM EST
Last Updated Monday, January 27, 2020 4:35PM EST
Canadian medical officials have confirmed a second "presumptive" case of coronavirus in Toronto and are closely watching an additional 19 people who have respiratory symptoms and travelled to the Hubei region of China, while laboratories scrutinize their test results.
Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said the second patient is the wife of the first Canadian patient, who federal officials said departed Wuhan, China and boarded China Southern Airlines Flight CZ311, which landed at Pearson from Guangzhou, China on Jan. 22. The National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg has now confirmed that case.
Federal officials said Sunday that the man in his 50s, showed mild symptoms aboard the flight and public health workers were seeking to make contact with anyone who sat near him on the plane.
He remains at Sunnybrook Hospital in stable condition.
Elliott told CP24 that his wife remains in self-isolation at her home, while “next steps are determined.”
Toronto Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa said the woman in her mid-50s, is “asymptomatic” at this point and they are checking in with her regularly, with no plans to transfer her to hospital.
“She is staying at home, because she is sick – this is good practice – if you’re sick and you have respiratory symptoms – a cough, sore throat or fever, the best advice is to stay at home.”
The National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg has offered a double-confirmation for the man’s case, while they are still analyzing the data from his wife. The wife’s sample tested positive at Public Health Ontario’s laboratory in Toronto.
Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health, said that since last week, public health officials have come into contact with 36 people who feared they were infected with 2019 novel coronavirus, the official name of the virus.
Of those, 15 people have been cleared entirely through testing, one is absolutely confirmed to have the virus, one is a presumptive positive case of the virus, and 19 others are under observation while they await test results.
Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams said “quite a few” of those 19 are under isolation at Toronto-area hospitals.
He said that given patterns emerging abroad, it is unlikely all 19 people under observation will be medically cleared.
“I would guess we are going to see some other cases reported in other parts of Ontario perhaps,” he said.
But Dr. Yaffe was more optimistic, saying it could be possible all of them would be cleared.
“If I were to predict, probably all of them have something else, but we are being extra, extra cautious,” she told reporters assembled at Queen’s Park.
She also said that all of the cases being reported outside of China originated from people who travelled to Hubei province.
All 19 of those still under investigation in Ontario travelled to the Hubei province, which contains the most-heavily impacted city of Wuhan, in the last several weeks.
Dr. De Villa said Toronto health workers have been able to make contact “with a few” people who were aboard the China Southern Airlines Flight CZ311 that has so far produced the country’s only confirmed cases, but may need to make a public appeal in the future to get in contact with more passengers.
But she said passengers who were on that flight, or others from China this week, and are not suffering any symptoms, should not panic.
“What we’re asking them to do is continue about regular business should they develop signs and symptoms and to stay home,” adding that Toronto Public Health had beefed up the team it is devoting to conducting investigations into possible cases.
Speaking with reporters on Monday afternoon, Mayor John Tory said that despite the positive cases he continues to believe that the city is “well protected,” something that he said has been made clear in daily conversations with de Villa.
“I am satisfied that the measures that are in place, the protocols the communications, the different things that are happening with the investigations are all that we can do,” he said.
Tory said that while it is important to remain vigilant, he has not been made aware of any need for precautions such as the wearing of masks at this point.
He said that given the scope of the virus he has asked that all official communications from Toronto Public Health be translated into other languages.
The global spread of the virus has infected nearly 2,800 people and so far claimed 81 lives, all in China.