(File photo/Canadian Press)
Jan 25, 2020
TORONTO — As the new coronavirus claims more lives in China, health authorities in this country are trying to reassure Canadians that plans and procedures are in place to protect them.
While no cases have yet been confirmed in Canada, Dr. Peter Donnelly, with Public Health Ontario, said Friday that it is indeed “likely” the coronavirus, which comes from the same family of viruses as SARS, will arrive here.
However, Donnelly added that health officials are much better prepared now than they were in 2003 when SARS killed 44 Canadians. He noted communications are more robust, hospitals have better isolation facilities, and a reliable test is available to detect the coronavirus within 24 hours.
Health officials are also working with the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg to develop an even quicker test, and screening measures have been beefed up at major airports in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal. In addition, everyone is being urged to practice good hygiene that helps prevent the transmission of all viruses — washing hands thoroughly, covering coughs and sneezes, and staying home if you’re sick.
Man in his 50s first possible case of coronavirus in Ontario – 680 News
A Toronto hospital is treating a patient suspected to be the first case of coronavirus in Canada.
Dr. Barbara Yaffe, the province’s associate chief medical officer of health, says a man in his 50s who had travelled to Wuhan, China – were the virus outbreak originated – returned to Toronto on Jan. 22 was taken to Toronto’s Sunnybrook Hospital on Jan. 23 and is now in a negative pressure room.
According to Toronto Public Health, the patient is listed in stable condition.
Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams, said the “risk to Ontarians is low” and the “system is operating as it should.”
“All appropriate infection prevention and control measures were followed by both paramedics and the hospital,” said Williams. “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.”
Health officials say the man traveled from Pearson airport to a residence using private transportation. They add the man’s wife has not shown any symptoms of the disease at this point.
The safety and security of passengers and employees is our top priority. We continue to work in close collaboration with @GovCanHealth and @CanBorder to ensure that all proper measures are taken for all international arriving passengers. https://t.co/3WHUxKEP1I
— Toronto Pearson (@TorontoPearson) January 25, 2020
My statement on the first presumptive confirmed case of coronavirus. pic.twitter.com/DDDenJw4jT
— John Tory (@JohnTory) January 25, 2020
In China, the virus has infected more 1,200 people and killed 41, reports say.
In an effort to control the spread of the illness, the Chinese government has locked down the city of Wuhan, home to over 11 million people.
Travel has been banned to and from the central-Chinese city. The government has also banned most vehicle use, including private cars, in downtown areas starting Sunday, state media reported. Only authorized vehicles would be permitted, the reports said.
Australia and Malaysia reported their first cases Saturday – four each – and Japan, it’s third. France confirmed three cases Friday, the first in Europe, and the U.S. identified its second, a woman in Chicago who had returned from China.
The new virus comes from a large family of what are known as coronaviruses, some causing nothing worse than a cold. It causes cold and flu-like symptoms, including cough and fever, and in more severe cases, shortness of breath. It can worsen to pneumonia, which can be fatal in some cases.
Here are key things to know following the first presumptive positive case of the coronavirus in Toronto:
WHAT IS IT?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that most often cause mild-to-moderate upper respiratory tract illnesses including the common cold, but they can also lead to severe diseases. Some coronaviruses spread between animals, some pass between animals and people, and others go from people to people.
This new virus is different from the coronaviruses that cause Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).
WHAT ARE COMMON SYMPTOMS?
This new virus has non-specific symptoms including fever, cough and difficulty breathing.
Typically, coronavirus infections manifest as the common cold. Symptoms can include runny nose, headache, cough, sore throat and fever. Young babies may contract gastrointestinal disease.
Severe cases involve pneumonia, kidney failure and even death.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I SUSPECT INFECTION?
Consult your health care provider as soon as possible if you are worried about symptoms or have travelled to a region where severe coronaviruses are known to occur.
If you have mild cold-like symptoms, health officials encourage you to stay home while sick and avoid close contact to help protect others. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and be sure to throw used tissues in the trash and wash your hands. Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces.
(Sources: Health Canada, Public Health Ontario, World Health Organization)
With files from The Canadian Press and Associated Press.
Health officials announce ‘presumptive’ case of coronavirus in Toronto – Global News
Ontario health officials have announced that a “presumptive” case of coronavirus has been discovered in Toronto, which if confirmed would mark the first instance of the illness in Canada.
In an evening press conference at Queen’s Park, officials said they were made aware of the case Saturday afternoon.
A man in his 50s tested positive for the virus but secondary testing at Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory will occur to confirm the case.
The victim recently travelled to Wuhan, China, which is believed to be the epicentre of the outbreak.
His condition is stable and he is being treated at Sunnybrook Hospital, officials said.
“The patient was detected and immediately put in isolation,” Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said.
“Lab tests were conducted and at the earliest signs of a presumptive positive case, Toronto Public Health launched extensive case and contact management to prevent and control further spread of the infection.”
Elliott said officials are working to identify everyone who the victim was in contact with in order to contain the virus.
Officials said any close household contact “has been put into self isolation.”
“Ontarians can rest assured that the province’s integrated health-care system today is far more prepared to respond to any potential health risks than in the past,” Elliott said.
Coronavirus outbreak: health officials provide details on presumptive case in Toronto
“We will continue to diligently monitor this issue to ensure Ontario remains prepared to identify, contain, and treat any additional cases of this virus.”
Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams said the patient arrived in Toronto on Jan. 22 after flying from Wuhan with a connection in Guangzhou, China.
Williams said the patient had a family member call 911, at which point they told officials about his symptoms.
“A pair of ambulance services went fully protected,” Williams said.
The man was transported to Sunnybrook hospital on Jan. 23.
Toronto Mayor John Tory responded to the news of the case in a statement Saturday evening.
“While we now have one presumptive confirmed case, our health officials are clear that the risk to residents continues to remain low,” he said in part.
“Toronto Public Health is continuing to work closely with provincial and federal health colleagues to actively monitor the situation and respond as appropriate.”
The illness has sickened more than 1,200 people and killed at least 41 in China.
Australia and Malaysia reported their first cases Saturday — four each– and Japan, its third.
France confirmed three cases Friday, the first in Europe, and the U.S. identified its second, a woman in Chicago who had returned from China.
– With files from the Canadian Press
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Hong Kong declares virus emergency, 2-week school closure – OttawaMatters.com
BEIJING — China’s leader on Saturday called the accelerating spread of a new virus a grave situation, as cities from the outbreak’s epicenter in central China to Hong Kong scrambled to contain an illness that has infected more than 1,200 people and killed 41.
President Xi Jinping’s remarks, reported by state broadcaster CCTV, came at a meeting of Communist Party leaders convened on Lunar New Year — the country’s biggest holiday whose celebrations have been muted — and underlined the government’s urgent, expanding efforts to control the outbreak.
Travel agencies have been told to halt all group tours, the state-owned English-language China Daily newspaper reported, citing the China Association of Travel Services.
Millions of people travelling during the holiday have fueled the spread of the outbreak nationwide and overseas after it began in the city of Wuhan in central China. The vast majority of the infections and all the deaths have been in mainland China, but fresh cases are popping up.
Australia and Malaysia reported their first cases Saturday — four each —and Japan, its third. France confirmed three cases Friday, the first in Europe, and the U.S. identified its second, a woman in Chicago who had returned from China.
In the heart of the outbreak where 11 million residents are already on lockdown, Wuhan banned most vehicle use, including private cars, in downtown areas starting Sunday, state media reported. Only authorized vehicles would be permitted, the reports said.
The city will assign 6,000 taxis to neighbourhoods, under the management of resident committees, to help people get around if they need to, China Daily said.
In Hong Kong, leader Carrie Lam said her government will raise its response level to emergency, the highest one, and close primary and secondary schools for two more weeks on top of next week’s Lunar New Year holiday. They will reopen Feb. 17.
Lam said direct flights and trains from Wuhan would be blocked.
In a sign of the growing strain on Wuhan’s health care system, the official Xinhua news agency reported that the city planned to build a second makeshift hospital with about 1,000 beds. The city has said another hospital was expected to be completed Feb. 3.
The new virus comes from a large family of what are known as coronaviruses, some causing nothing worse than a cold. It causes cold- and flu-like symptoms, including cough and fever, and in more severe cases, shortness of breath. It can worsen to pneumonia, which can be fatal.
China cut off trains, planes and other links to Wuhan on Wednesday, as well as public transportation within the city, and has steadily expanded a lockdown to 16 surrounding cities with a combined population of more than 50 million — greater than that of New York, London, Paris and Moscow combined.
China’s biggest holiday, Lunar New Year, unfolded Saturday in the shadow of the virus. Authorities cancelled a host of events, and closed major tourist destinations and movie theatres.
Temples locked their doors, Beijing’s Forbidden City and Shanghai Disneyland closed, and people cancelled restaurant reservations ahead of the holiday, normally a time of family reunions, sightseeing trips and other festivities in the country of 1.4 billion people.
“We originally planned to go back to my wife’s hometown and bought train tickets to depart this afternoon,” said Li Mengbin, who was on a stroll near the closed Forbidden City. “We ended up cancelling. But I’m still happy to celebrate the new year in Beijing, which I hadn’t for several years.”
Temples and parks were decorated with red streamers, paper lanterns and booths, but some places started dismantling the decor.
People in China wore medical masks to public places like grocery stores, where workers dispensed hand sanitizer to customers. Some parts of the country had checkpoints for temperature readings and made masks mandatory.
The National Health Commission reported a jump in the number of infected people, to 1,287. The latest tally, from 29 provinces and cities across China, included 237 patients in serious condition.
Of the 41 deaths, 39 have been in Hubei province, where Wuhan is the capital city. Most of the deaths have been older patients, though a 36-year-old man in Hubei died this week.
French automaker PSA Group says it will evacuate its employees from Wuhan, quarantine them and then bring them to France. The Foreign Ministry said it was working on “eventual options” to evacuate French citizens from Wuhan “who want to leave.” It didn’t elaborate.
The National Health Commission said it is bringing in medical teams to help handle the outbreak, a day after videos circulating online showed throngs of frantic people in masks lined up for examinations and complaints that family members had been turned away at hospitals that were at capacity.
The Chinese military dispatched 450 medical staff, some with experience in past outbreaks, including SARS and Ebola, who arrived in Wuhan late Friday to help treat many patients hospitalized with viral pneumonia, Xinhua reported.
Xinhua also said medical supplies are being rushed to the city, including 14,000 protective suits, 110,000 pairs of gloves and masks and goggles.
The rapid increase in reported deaths and illnesses does not necessarily mean the crisis is getting worse but could reflect better monitoring and reporting of the virus.
It is not clear how lethal the new coronavirus is or even whether it is as dangerous as the ordinary flu, which kills tens of thousands of people every year in the U.S. alone.
Associated Press researcher Henry Hou and video journalist Dake Kang contributed to this report.
Ken Moritsugu, The Associated Press
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