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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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Wife of Canada's first coronavirus patient tests positive; 19 under investigation – Nasdaq

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Credit: REUTERS/CARLOS OSORIO

The wife of Canada’s first confirmed patient with the fast-spreading Wuhan coronavirus also has tested positive for it at an Ontario laboratory, and 19 other suspected cases in Canada are under investigation, public health officials said on Monday.

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No reported cases of coronavirus in Ottawa – CBC.ca

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Ottawa Public Health (OPH) is bracing for the arrival of coronavirus, but so far no cases have been reported in this city.

Health officials have identified a second presumptive case in Toronto after the wife of a man believed to be Ontario’s first presumptive case of the virus began showing similar symptoms. Officials say the woman has been in “self-isolation” since arriving in Toronto, while her husband remains in stable condition in hospital.

Officials continue to identify people who may have come into contact with the couple on their flight from China, but OPH says it hasn’t been informed of any in Ottawa.

According to Ottawa’s medical officer of health, health officials here are already taking precautions.

“When people present with a respiratory illness … they are screened for their travel history, especially considering any contact with the Wuhan city or provinces nearby in China, any contact with ill people who have been in Wuhan,” Dr. Vera Etches told CBC.

“People are getting the message: when they return from a country or area that is affected, to monitor themselves for symptoms of a respiratory infection.” 

Symptoms includes fever, cough, runny nose and shortness of breath, Etches said.

Phone ahead

Etches said anyone who believe they may have been exposed to coronavirus and is showing symptoms should phone ahead before arriving at the emergency room.

“We’ll walk them through the process … if it looks like they should be tested for the new coronavirus,” Etches said.

So far, no tests have been ordered in Ottawa.

Dr. Vera Etches is Ottawa’s medical officer of health. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

“Right now, this is very low-risk still for transmission of this new virus in Canada. So, it’s very unlikely that someone would come in contact with the virus here,” she said.

Nevertheless, Etches cautions people to wash their hands frequently, and to refrain from touching their eyes and nose. Viruses are often contracted by coming into contact with mucous membranes.

Masks unnecessary

There have been reports of people in Ottawa buying up medical masks, likely to ship to family in China, but according to Etches, “here in Ottawa, there is no reason to wear a mask if you’re well.”

Wearing a mask likely won’t prevent a healthy person from getting sick anyway, Etches said.

“They’re not fitted. Air can get around them. People touch them, they touch their eyes, the environment. It gives a false sense of security. So really, the main thing is, keep your hands clean.” 

Etches also urges people to check reputable sources, such as the Ottawa Public Health website, for up-to-date information on coronavirus.

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Canada's second confirmed presumptive case of coronavirus is wife of first case – CTV News

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TORONTO —
TORONTO — The wife of the man identified as Canada’s first case of the Wuhan coronavirus has tested positive for the virus at Ontario’s public health laboratory, and has been in self-isolation since arriving in Toronto, according to Ontario health officials.

“When he went to the hospital, she had agreed to stay in self-isolation,” Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams told CTV’s Your Morning. 

Toronto Public Health has been in regular contact with the woman during her self-isolation period, officials said.

“Whether it’s novel coronavirus, influenza, other respiratory diseases, if you’re sick, stay home and don’t go out and socialize,” Williams added. “You can be out in public because it’s not widespread … The risk is very low for Ontarians.”

The news comes after the province announced Canada’s first “presumptive positive” case of the coronavirus on Saturday, in a 50-year old man who recently returned to Toronto from Wuhan. He displayed mild symptoms on the flight and went to the hospital a day later as symptoms worsened. He is in stable condition and being kept in isolation at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto.

Officials are following protocols and trying to contact passengers on China Southern Airlines flight CZ311 from Guangzhou, China, who were in close proximity to the couple. The couple’s flight landed at Pearson International Airport at 3:46 p.m. on Jan 22. 

Williams said the entire plane was not at risk because it’s a “droplet-spread organism.”

Samples from both individuals have been sent to the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg for full confirmation. There are 21 cases under investigation, Williams said, with 15 ruled out as negative so far.

An outbreak of the virus that began in Wuhan, China has killed 81 people so far, with more than 2,700 cases confirmed as of midnight. A total of 17 cities in China are on lockdown, limiting the movement of more than 50 million people during what is normally the world’s busiest travel period due to the week-long Lunar New Year holiday. 

The country has extended the holiday in an effort to keep the public at home. Many large public events and gatherings have been cancelled, while a number of major tourist sites including The Forbidden City and Shanghai Disneyland have closed until further notice.

Canada does not have a consular presence in Wuhan, but the Minister of Foreign Affairs, François-Philippe Champagne said Canadians are advised to avoid non-essential travel to theChinese province of Hubei due to the heavy travel restrictions currently in place.

“We understand the concerns of Canadians in the region and those of their families and loved ones. We are in contact with and providing assistance to Canadians currently on the ground,” Champagne said in a statement.

There are currently 67 Canadians in Hubei province who have registered with the voluntary Registration of Canadians Abroad service, according to a government source, but because the registration is voluntary, the numbers are not a complete picture of how many Canadians are in the region or in China.

Canadians who need emergency consular help can contact the Embassy of Canada in Beijing at 86 (10) 5139-4000. Canadians can also call the department’s 24/7 Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa at +1 613-996-8885 or email sos@international.gc.ca.

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