Province reports five new travel-related COVID-19 cases, raising count to 42
Chris Herhalt, CP24.com
Published Wednesday, March 11, 2020 11:00AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, March 11, 2020 8:03PM EDT
Ontario announced five new cases of novel coronavirus Wednesday, including a Hamilton cancer specialist who saw multiple patients on the day she was diagnosed.
The 32-year-old woman who recently returned from Hawaii reported to Hamilton Health Sciences Centre with symptoms.
Hamilton Health Sciences says the Hamilton patient is a doctor at the hospital’s Juravinski Cancer Centre.
“She attended the (emergency department) at Juravinski Hospital where she was tested for the new coronavirus. Proper infection control measures were taken and PPE was worn by staff and physicians who provided the care and testing,” the hospital said.
The hospital confirmed that the infected doctor worked at the cancer centre on the afternoon of March 9, "and saw patients and interacted with colleagues and staff."
"Those individuals are being contacted," officials in Hamilton said.
"They will all be at the very early part of the incubation period and they will be self-isolating immediately," Halton Region's Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Hamidah Meghani said.
She reportedly saw as many as 14 patients on the day she was diagnosed.
"This was very early in her illness and it's our hope that the risk to her patients is low," Dr. Barry Lumb of Hamilton Health Sciences said.
They said the doctor returned from Hawaii on March 7 and reported to hospital with symptoms on March 9.
Hamilton's Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Elizabeth Richardson said they are working to contact everyone who worked directly with the doctor, as well as those who worked in the same area of the hospital and the patients she saw on March 9.
Officials said her spouse is a doctor at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Hamilton and he is being tested for possible infection.
"So the spouse is a physician at St. Joseph’s Hospital and we were in touch with St. Joseph’s Hospital as soon as we were aware last night," Lumb said. "They have undertaken their own processes internally. I understand he is not symptomatic at this time. He is a surgeon."
A man in his 30s reported to Toronto Western Hospital with symptoms after returning from the United States. On Wednesday afternoon, officials said a woman in her 40s presented herself at St. Joseph's Health Centre in Toronto is the province's 42nd case of the virus. She travelled from the U.S.
Also a man in his 40s reported to Ottawa Hospital after returning from Austria with symptoms.
The cases also include a woman in her 30s who recently returned from Egypt and presented to Mackenzie Health in Richmond Hill.
Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti said the woman in her 30s is Egyptian and was visiting people in Markham.
All five new patients were discharged and ordered to go into self-isolation.
The new cases bring the province’s total case count including recoveries to 42.
Ontario officials continue to probe the travel and interactions of Ontario’s 37th case, a Sudbury man who travelled to Toronto on March 2 and 3 to attend the annual Prospectors and Developers Association mining conference.
His diagnosis was announced late on Tuesday. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Ontario Premier Doug Ford, Natural Resources Minister Seamus O'Regan and about 23,000 other people attended the conference.
CTV News Toronto confirmed the man is an employee of Ontario's Ministry of Northern Development and Mines.
As a result, the Ministry's office at 159 Cedar Street in Sudbury has been "locked down."
He did not have a recent travel history abroad and the chief doctor in Sudbury has called his case “concerning.”
Ontario’s Ministry of Health has said they are working to trace all of his close contacts over the past nine days.
Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said health officials in Toronto and Sudbury are examining the case "in detail" but could not confirm that it is a case of community spread at this point.
“We will have information for you very soon on that," she said.
Officials say there are 465 people under investigation for possible infection, up from 112 on Tuesday.
Since last week, Ontario hospitals have been submitting test samples for anyone who presents themselves at an emergency room with symptoms of respiratory illness.
The premier says the province has set aside a $100-million contingency fund to handle the outbreak.
COVID-19 screening and assessment centres are expected to be ready within days, Elliott confirmed.
“The assessment centres will be ready imminently," she said. “We are setting them up now and we will be making the announcement... very shortly.”
Meanwhile, doctors from the Public Health Agency of Canada say that one of the 228 returnees from the Grand Princess cruise ship docked in Oakland has tested positive for the virus.
“One passenger recorded a mild fever and a cough, and a laboratory test confirmed COVID-19,” officials say. “The individual is in isolation at the facility, and regular follow-ups and assessments are being conducted.”
Canada now has 118 COVID-19 cases, one fatality and nine recoveries.
When asked if there would be a ban in Ontario on large gatherings, a move that has recently been undertaken in some major U.S. cities, Elliott said the province is not ready to do that yet.
“If we move into the next stage, that is where we need to start cancelling events, not having large gatherings. We are not at that stage yet," she said. “It is likely that we will move to the next stage but we have a plan in place to deal with it.”