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First presumptive case of coronavirus in GTA worries schools, parents – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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Katherine DeClerq, CP24.com


Published Sunday, January 26, 2020 7:22PM EST


Last Updated Sunday, January 26, 2020 7:37PM EST

Residents across the Greater Toronto Area are expressing concern after learning that a man in a Toronto hospital has been diagnosed with Canada’s first presumptive case of coronavirus.

Health officials confirmed the first “presumptive positive” case of coronavirus, known as 2019-nCoV, at Sunnybrook Hospital on Saturday. The patient, a man in his 50s, had recently travelled to Wuhan, China and returned to Toronto on Jan. 22.

He was admitted to the hospital the following day, where he remains in stable condition.

After hearing the news, some GTA schools issued notices to parents calling for caution and asking families to stay home if necessary.

The principal of Somerset Academy, a private school in Markham, sent a letter home to parents this weekend saying that families who have travelled to Asia should stay home for a minimum of 15 days.

“To avoid any member of our Somerset Academy family from getting sick with this illness, we are asking that all families who are currently away from school and are in Asia or are planning to go to Asia,to understand that you will not be permitted back into Somerset Academy or Yips until you and your family have been home from your travels a minimum of 15 days from the date you have landed back in Canada,” the letter reads.

“As proof of this, you will be asked to provide and show us your boarding pass(es) and/or stamped documents that states the date of your return from your trip.”

The letter urged parents of children with flu-like symptoms that have developed within the last 12 hours to stay home and rest.

“We are taking this illness, along with other sicknesses, very seriously and no exceptions or excuses will be accepted,” the letter said. “The health of our families is extremely important to us and you are only putting our students, along with our teachers and staff, health at risk. It is better to be safer now than sorry later.”

More than 6,000 people sign online petition in York

A petition has also started to circulate titled “stop the potential spreading of the novel coronavirus in schools of York Region.”

The author of the petition claims to be representing parents from various schools and calls for caution following Saturday’s Chinese New Year.

“Traditionally large amounts of people travel nationwide or even internationally during this period to meet families and friends, which tremendously increases the chance of infection,” the petition said.

“Meanwhile, in the next few weeks, families went to China will travel back to Canada. It will definitely bring the virus into our country, and makes next two to four weeks being the peak time of this infectious disease transmission.”

The petition recommends that schools keep track of students who recently travelled to China and asks those families to stay isolated for a minimum of 17 days.

Meanwhile, Infectious Disease Expert Dr. Neil Rau said that people need to listen to world health experts and stop creating an “epidemic of fear.”

“We don’t need people going rogue, deciding to do their own form of quarantine where they tell people to stay home for two weeks after they came back from China,” he told CTV News Toronto. “No one is telling anyone to do that at this time. It is incredibly disruptive, it has economic consequences, it is inconvenient for parents, it’s bad for kids’ education if schools do this.”

The last statement released by the Toronto District School Board about the coronavirus was on Jan. 24.

Toronto public health urging people to contact officials

In a statement released Sunday afternoon, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health said that officials are “actively following up” with anyone who may have been on China Southern Airlines flight CZ311, which arrived at Pearson airport on Jan. 22 from Guangzhou.

“We are informing these people that they may have been exposed to a potential health risk, what signs and symptoms they should look out for, and when and what type of medical treatment should be sought out, if that becomes necessary,” Dr. Eileen de Villa said in a statement said. “This work is part of routine public health follow-up of a case of an infectious disease.”

De Villa also said that local hospitals have reported that people are coming to emergency departments without symptoms of the virus.

“While we appreciate that people may have concerns, and that people may worry about their health, we encourage people who were on this flight and who do not have signs of illness to continue with their routine activities and we ask that these people do not present to the healthcare system,” she said.

“The risk to our community remains low.”

The illness was first reported in Wuhan, China in late December. As of Sunday, there were nearly 2,000 diagnosed cases around the world.

More than 55 people have died as a result of the virus in China.

Markham mayor calls for enhanced screening at airports

Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti released a statement Sunday evening calling on the federal government to implement additional screening and detection measures at Canadian airports.

“The current measures introduced are less stringent than at other major airports in New York City, San Francisco and Los Angeles that involve passengers from China being screened for symptoms,” he said.

“With a first presumptive confirmed case of the novel coronavirus now in the Toronto area, there is heightened concern and anxiety in the community. These screening measures as an ounce of prevention would provide greater public confidence that more is being done to reduce risk and exposure to the virus.”

Earlier this month, major airports in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal increased security measures as a result of the coronavirus. An additional health screening question was also added to electronic custom kiosks.

Travellers are also being asked to inform border services officers if they are experiencing flu-like symptoms.

With files from CTV News Toronto’s Janice Golding

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Tam warns of possible surge in COVID-19 cases – Canada News – Castanet.net

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Only a small fraction of the 40,000 new ventilators Canada ordered for hospitals last spring have already been delivered but several companies involved say their production lines will start delivering the products faster in the next few weeks.

The promise of new arrivals comes as Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, warned Friday that a fall surge of COVID-19 cases could overwhelm the health-care system, including its supply of critical care beds and ventilators.

“What we know based on what we learned from other countries and cities that had a devastating impact in that initial wave, if you exceeded that capacity the mortality goes up really, really high,” she said.

Flu season and other respiratory infections common in the fall could put added pressure on the system if COVID-19 flares up in a big way.

Tam said there were many lessons learned from the spring, when the government was ill-prepared and without enough protective equipment for health-care workers, and feared a massive surge of COVID-19 would overwhelm the health-care system.

“We are much better prepared than we were before,” she said.

In March, Canadians watched in horror as northern Italy’s COVID-19 outbreak overran its health-care system, leaving doctors to choose which patients got a ventilator and which were left without one. That experience, coupled with warnings it could happen here too, compelled federal and provincial governments to order thousands of new ventilators.

But much like surgical face masks and N95 respirators, Canada didn’t already produce many ventilators domestically, and getting them from international sources is tough when global need for new ventilators is in the hundreds of thousands. So Canada asked firms here if they could step up, and out of that four new consortiums to build ventilators were formed.

A fifth contract was signed with Thornhill Medical, a Toronto firm that at that point was making about 50 of its portable breathing machines a month.

In all, Canada ordered 40,328 ventilators, for an estimated $1.1 billion, and as of Friday, it had just 606 in hand.

Paul-Emile Cloutier, the president of national health-care advocate HealthCareCAN, said there is concern about the status of the government’s orders for personal protective equipment and ventilators ahead of the possibility COVID-19 will surge again in Canada this fall.

“Details are crucial as we prepare for the expected next wave of COVID-19,” he said.

Procurement Minister Anita Anand said Friday the government is pushing on to get the entirety of the orders in place. A statement from her department said “Canada currently has sufficient ventilators to meet current demands” and that the ones on order are to bolster existing Public Health Agency of Canada stockpiles, as well as the units already in hospitals and provincial warehouses across the country.

But Health Canada won’t say how many ventilators the country now has in total. It will also not disclose any modelling for how many could be needed in a worst-case scenario situation. In March there were about 5,000 ventilators nationally, and another 500 in the national emergency stockpile.

Canada’s ability to plank the COVID-19 curve in the spring meant warnings about running out of ventilators never came to fruition.

John Walmsley, the executive vice president at Starfish Medical in Victoria, said that took the pressure off his new coalition, Canadian Emergency Ventilators, Inc.

“We have a little bit more elbow room to do things in a bit of a controlled manner but I would say we’re looking to get it done this year,” he said.

“We’re all concerned about a second wave and being ready for that and so we’re on board to deliver for that.”

Canadian Emergency Ventilators is still waiting for Health Canada approval before it can start shipping its promised 7,500 machines. It submitted the documents in June and it is taking a bit longer than expected to get the green light.

Once that happens, the Public Health Agency of Canada would have to test the product, and then the units that have already been built could be shipped, said Walmsley. He is still hopeful to fill the order by the end of the year.

Thornhill Medical CEO Lesley Gouldie said her company’s partnership with Linamar, a manufacturer based in Guelph, Ont., has been a great success. Thornhill is to provide 1,020 machines to Canada, and has shipped 27 so far.

Gouldie said Linamar can make as many as 100 of the units a week, but getting the supplies for the 1,500 parts that make up their portable device proved to be difficult in a pandemic.

“The limiting factor is the supply chains,” Gouldie said.

She said the kinks are mostly worked out now, and she expects to ship enough machines each week to fulfil their contract by early December.

Rick Jamieson, the CEO of FTI Professional Grade, said they expect to fulfil their entire contract for 10,000 ventilators by Dec. 12. FTI is one of several companies in a consortium called Ventilators for Canadians, which has already delivered 132 ventilators. Another 120 are on track for delivery next week and 240 in the last week of August.

“We have activated a fourth shift to increase production knowing that a second wave is likely this fall and winter,” said Jamieson.

Montreal’s CAE received Health Canada approval for its new ventilator on June 17, and said that day it expected to begin shipping “hundreds each week.” It has a contract to deliver 10,000.

The final company, Vexos, was the last to sign a contract, and had to submit its product to Health Canada as well, and began shipping in late July.

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Ventilator supply starts to increase as Tam warns of possible surge of COVID-19 – Toronto Sun

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OTTAWA — Less than two per cent of the 40,000 new ventilators Canada ordered for hospitals last spring have already been delivered.

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam says Canada is better prepared for a fall wave of COVID-19 than it was in the spring, but also says that wave could be big enough to overwhelm Canada’s health-care system, including its supply of ventilators.

Health Canada won’t say how many ventilators hospitals could need to respond to such a surge, but insists it has enough for now, with the new ones ordered meant to augment existing stockpiles.

Only 606 of the 40,328 ventilators Ottawa ordered in April and May have arrived, but at least three of the companies involved say they expect to double or even triple the number they ship in the coming weeks.

Four of them needed Health Canada approval for their product, which is still outstanding in two cases, and another said supply chain issues delayed production.

While the contracts for the ventilators, worth more than $1.1 billion, run through March 2021, most of the companies expect to fulfil their entire order before the end of the year.

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Ventilator supply starts to increase as Tam warns of possible surge of COVID-19 – insauga.com

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Only a small fraction of the 40,000 new ventilators Canada ordered for hospitals last spring have already been delivered but several companies involved say their production lines will start delivering the products faster in the next few weeks.

The promise of new arrivals comes as Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, warned Friday that a fall surge of COVID-19 cases could overwhelm the health-care system, including its supply of critical care beds and ventilators.

“What we know based on what we learned from other countries and cities that had a devastating impact in that initial wave, if you exceeded that capacity the mortality goes up really, really high,” she said.

Flu season and other respiratory infections common in the fall could put added pressure on the system if COVID-19 flares up in a big way.

Tam said there were many lessons learned from the spring, when the government was ill-prepared and without enough protective equipment for health-care workers, and feared a massive surge of COVID-19 would overwhelm the health-care system.

“We are much better prepared than we were before,” she said.

In March, Canadians watched in horror as northern Italy’s COVID-19 outbreak overran its health-care system, leaving doctors to choose which patients got a ventilator and which were left without one. That experience, coupled with warnings it could happen here too, compelled federal and provincial governments to order thousands of new ventilators.

But much like surgical face masks and N95 respirators, Canada didn’t already produce many ventilators domestically, and getting them from international sources is tough when global need for new ventilators is in the hundreds of thousands. So Canada asked firms here if they could step up, and out of that four new consortiums to build ventilators were formed.

A fifth contract was signed with Thornhill Medical, a Toronto firm that at that point was making about 50 of its portable breathing machines a month.

In all, Canada ordered 40,328 ventilators, for an estimated $1.1 billion, and as of Friday, it had just 606 in hand.

Paul-Emile Cloutier, the president of national health-care advocate HealthCareCAN, said there is concern about the status of the government’s orders for personal protective equipment and ventilators ahead of the possibility COVID-19 will surge again in Canada this fall.

“Details are crucial as we prepare for the expected next wave of COVID-19,” he said.

Procurement Minister Anita Anand said Friday the government is pushing on to get the entirety of the orders in place. A statement from her department said “Canada currently has sufficient ventilators to meet current demands” and that the ones on order are to bolster existing Public Health Agency of Canada stockpiles, as well as the units already in hospitals and provincial warehouses across the country. 

But Health Canada won’t say how many ventilators the country now has in total. It will also not disclose any modelling for how many could be needed in a worst-case scenario situation. In March there were about 5,000 ventilators nationally, and another 500 in the national emergency stockpile.

Canada’s ability to plank the COVID-19 curve in the spring meant warnings about running out of ventilators never came to fruition.

John Walmsley, the executive vice president at Starfish Medical in Victoria, said that took the pressure off his new coalition, Canadian Emergency Ventilators, Inc.

“We have a little bit more elbow room to do things in a bit of a controlled manner but I would say we’re looking to get it done this year,” he said.

“We’re all concerned about a second wave and being ready for that and so we’re on board to deliver for that.”

Canadian Emergency Ventilators is still waiting for Health Canada approval before it can start shipping its promised 7,500 machines. It submitted the documents in June and it is taking a bit longer than expected to get the green light.

Once that happens, the Public Health Agency of Canada would have to test the product, and then the units that have already been built could be shipped, said Walmsley. He is still hopeful to fill the order by the end of the year.

Thornhill Medical CEO Lesley Gouldie said her company’s partnership with Linamar, a manufacturer based in Guelph, Ont., has been a great success. Thornhill is to provide 1,020 machines to Canada, and has shipped 27 so far.

Gouldie said Linamar can make as many as 100 of the units a week, but getting the supplies for the 1,500 parts that make up their portable device proved to be difficult in a pandemic.

“The limiting factor is the supply chains,” Gouldie said.

She said the kinks are mostly worked out now, and she expects to ship enough machines each week to fulfil their contract by early December.

Rick Jamieson, the CEO of FTI Professional Grade, said they expect to fulfil their entire contract for 10,000 ventilators by Dec. 12. FTI is one of several companies in a consortium called Ventilators for Canadians, which has already delivered 132 ventilators. Another 120 are on track for delivery next week and 240 in the last week of August.

“We have activated a fourth shift to increase production knowing that a second wave is likely this fall and winter,” said Jamieson.

Montreal’s CAE received Health Canada approval for its new ventilator on June 17, and said that day it expected to begin shipping “hundreds each week.” It has a contract to deliver 10,000.

The final company, Vexos, was the last to sign a contract, and had to submit its product to Health Canada as well, and began shipping in late July.

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press

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