Ontario investigating 29 people for possible coronavirus infection, no new cases
Chris Herhalt, CP24.com
Published Monday, February 3, 2020 10:36AM EST
Last Updated Monday, February 3, 2020 1:08PM EST
Provincial health officials are monitoring 29 people with signs of possible coronavirus infection, up from 17 on Friday, as all three confirmed patients in Ontario are recovering.
A female Western University student in her 20s was diagnosed with the virus on Friday, on a second attempt after her first test came back negative.
The federal microbiology lab in Winnipeg confirmed her case over the weekend.
Ontario's Associate Medical Officer of Health Barbara Yaffe said that since the start of the outbreak in China, 76 people in Ontario have tested negative for the virus, three people are “presumptive negatives” where an Ontario lab has ruled them negative but the federal lab results have yet to come back, and test results for 26 others are still pending.
The province’s first two cases, a couple in their 50s, are recovering at home.
“Right now all three cases are at home and doing well,” Ontario Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams said Monday. “That’s good news.”
A fourth patient, a man in British Columbia, remains in stable condition.
The three patients recovering at home will stay in isolation at home until local public health officials are confident they no longer carry the virus.
“They’re being monitored by local health and will be released from isolation after we get two negative specimens 24 hours apart, which I don’t believe has happened,” Yaffe said.
Williams said that it is his expectation that the number of people who will come forward for testing in Ontario in the coming days will start to wane, as more days pass from the night of Jan. 23, when Chinese officials cut all road, air and rail links out of Wuhan and the surrounding province in response to the outbreak.
“Our assumption is that even people who got out earlier had not been in Hubei since the 23rd or 24th ,” Williams said.
Doctors fighting the virus are working on the World Health Organization assessment that the virus cannot incubate inside a patient without showing symptoms for more than 14 days, which would mean the window for patients from the most heavily-impacted area to present themselves is closing.
Province prepares to host Canadians returning from Wuhan
As the federal government said Sunday it has prepared a plane to take Canadians out of Wuhan and back to CFB Trenton, Williams said they are still in discussions about what the reception process on the base will look like.
“We’re trying to set up a process that if they’re going to come, they may need comprehensive care,” he said, adding that the province’s mobile health response unit is at the ready to set up at the base.
What he knew for sure was that passengers arriving at the Wuhan airport would be screened for symptoms upon entry and barred if they show any.
“You have to be asymptomatic to get on that plane,” he said.
They would again be screened for symptoms before boarding the plane, and then periodically monitored while in flight.
Williams said it was his understanding that anyone who showed symptoms on the plane would be taken off upon arrival and held apart from the rest of the passengers, who will be required to stay at the base for 14 days.
The federal government has not yet said when the flight would depart for China but are expected to speak about the process later on Monday.
Meanwhile in China, the spread of the virus has not showed signs of slowing.
The virus has infected more than 17,000 people in China, resulting in 362 deaths as of Monday morning.
Even without further cases in Ontario or Canada, public health officials will be on alert.
“We’re at this for the next three to four months,” Williams said.