Toronto public health officials are tracking down almost 30 passengers who sat within a two-metre radius of a man who had coronavirus symptoms while travelling by plane to Toronto.
“It’s just a little under 30,” said Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s medical officer of health, when asked by the Star for the number of passengers her office is contacting. She added that some of those passengers are likely somewhere outside of the city.
The passengers are being contacted by phone, informed that they may have been exposed to the coronavirus, told of the health symptoms to look for, and to seek medical treatment if necessary, de Villa said in a phone interview.
The 50-year-old man presumed to be infected with the coronavirus experienced dry coughing and muscle aches while on the flight from China to Pearson airport, she said. News that he had symptoms of the illness while travelling to Toronto was revealed earlier Sunday by Canada’s chief public health officer.
“Based on the latest information, the patient had symptoms on the plane,” Dr. Theresa Tam told an Ottawa news conference, which included federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu.
The man arrived Wednesday on China Southern Airlines flight CZ311. He flew from Wuhan, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak, to Guangzhou and from there directly to Toronto.
Protocols implemented at international airports in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal instruct passengers to inform border officials if they are experience flu-like symptoms, including fever, coughing and shortness of breath. But Dr. Rita Shahin, Toronto’s associate medical officer of health, told the Star the infected man arrived in Toronto the day before those protocols were implemented at Pearson.
“Screening was not yet in place when that flight came in,” Shahin said. “Screening started the following day.”
Asked why the screening wasn’t in place earlier at the airport, Shahin said that’s a question best answered by federal authorities. But neither Tam or Hajdu seemed to realize protocols weren’t in place when they held their news conference Sunday morning.
Tam told reporters that airport protocols were followed when the man landed. She explained that arrival screens instruct passengers to inform border service officers if they’re sick after travelling to coronavirus affected areas. Health screening questions are also asked when using electronic customs kiosks at the three airports.
A passenger who reports symptoms after travelling to an infected area is quarantined and medically assessed, Tam said, adding she did not currently see the need for more extreme airport protocols.
“The system is working,” she said, referring to the patient’s example. “The person obviously got the information that they needed to enter the health system in a safe and responsible manner.”
But asked repeatedly if the man had reported to Pearson airport authorities that he was experiencing symptoms, Tam suggested she didn’t know, noting the information about symptoms on the plane had been newly received Sunday morning after an interview with the patient.
“This patient may have had some mild symptoms, certainly not something that would have been particularly obvious,” Tam said, adding her agency had received no report about the patient when he came through Pearson airport.
Toronto Public Health now says the protocols weren’t in place, so the patient likely didn’t know he had to tell border officials about his symptoms, or that he had been to Wuhan.
Tam said passengers who weren’t within the two-metre radius with the patient on the plane “should not be overly concerned.”
“For the rest of the plane, if you don’t get a call from public health authorities it means you were not right next to that two-metre radius,” Tam said, adding that passengers who are not contacted “should remain calm.” Two metres is about the distance that infected droplets from a cough would travel.
Tam’s deputy, Dr. Howard Njoo, said it’s possible some passengers who were seated close to the patient live in provinces outside of Ontario.
In a statement Sunday, de Villa said passengers have been showing up at local hospital emergency departments without symptoms.
“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 health care system,” de Villa said.
After landing in Toronto, the infected man was taken from the airport in a private vehicle and authorities say he had little contact with anyone since his arrival outside of his immediate family. The patient called 911 the day after his arrival, was taken by ambulance to hospital Thursday, and is in stable condition.
De Villa said in an interview that only one member of the man’s family was in close contact with him. The family member has no symptoms and is doing well.
China’s health minister, Ma Xiaowei, told reporters in Beijing Sunday that an infected person can spread the coronavirus to others before experiencing symptoms. That’s different than the SARS coronavirus, which couldn’t be spread during incubation. The SARS outbreak began in China in 2002 and killed almost 800 people worldwide. The current coronavirus so far seems less dangerous than SARS. But de Villa cautioned that the virus was identified less than a month ago and the situation is “evolving.”
Hajdu stressed that “the risk is extremely low for Canadians,” noting the virus is spread only through close contact. “There is no need for Canadians to be alarmed,” she said, adding health authorities have learned much since SARS killed 44 people in Toronto.
Given global travel patterns, Tam said she expects more coronavirus cases will be “imported into Canada in the near term.” And she urged people participating in large public gatherings to take typical winter time precautions — “wash your hands, don’t cough towards someone, cough into a tissue or into your sleeve and discard the tissue properly. And stay home if you’re sick.”
The United States government is sending a charter plane to fly its consular staff out of Wuhan. Hajdu said the Canadian government is not currently planning a similar airlift for Canadians citizens there. But the government will assist Canadians who want help leaving Wuhan if they reach out to Global Affairs, she added.
The man believed to be infected was taken by ambulance to Toronto’s Sunnybrook hospital Thursday with a fever and cough. Tests came back positive for coronavirus on Saturday and the man is now being treated in isolation in a “negative pressure” room at the hospital. Dr. Jerome Leis, Sunnybrook’s medical director of infection prevention and control, said Sunday the patient remains in stable condition, and will only be released when he’s no longer a contagion risk. Leis said the patient’s presence at the hospital is not affecting care being given to other patients.
Tam said she expects laboratory confirmation on the presumed coronavirus infection within 24 hours.
Toronto Public Health is investigating every place the patient may have visited and any people he came in contact with, said Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s medical officer of health, at a separate press conference on Saturday.
Health officials around the world are working to contain the coronavirus, known as 2019-nCoV, which as of Sunday had infected nearly 2,000 people and led to 56 deaths in China, where it originated. Despite its rapid spread, the virus had not been declared an international public health emergency by the World Health Organization.
In central China’s Hubei province, some 51 million in 16 cities are essentially quarantined and under a travel ban.
Aside from China and Canada, cases have been reported in the U.S., Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam and Hong Kong.
2nd COVID-19 case of unknown origin reported in California – Global News
California health officials on Friday confirmed the second case of novel coronavirus in the United States believed to have been transmitted to a person who didn’t travel internationally or come in close contact with anyone who had it.
Health officials in San Jose said the patient was an older adult woman with chronic health conditions who does not have a travel history or any known contact with a traveler or infected person. It comes a day after state officials said a woman hospitalized at UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento had contracted the illness after no known contact.
“This new case indicates that there is evidence of community transmission, but the extent is still not clear,” said Dr. Sara Cody, health officer for Santa Clara County and director of the County of Santa Clara Public Health Department.
World Health Organization raises COVID-19 risk to highest level
Officials were able to get quick confirmation because the test was done by the Santa Clara County Public Health Laboratory with test kits received from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Officials submitted the woman’s specimens for testing Thursday and received the results Thursday night.
The California Department of Public Health said Friday that the state will receive enough kits from the CDC to test up to 1,200 people, a day after Gov. Gavin Newsom complained to federal health officials that the state had already exhausted its initial 200 test kits.
State official also said the federal government decided it will not need to use the Fairview Developmental Center in Orange County to isolate passengers from the Diamond Princess cruise ship. That’s because of the imminent end of the isolation period for those passengers and the relatively small number of persons who ended up testing positive, officials said.
The CDC had originally estimated that as many as half the passengers would test positive. But the state said the actual number has been “substantially lower.” A federal judge had granted officials in Costa Mesa a temporary restraining order blocking the transfers during the time when state officials said the facility had been “critically needed.”
Cody said the newly confirmed case in Santa Clara County is not linked to two previous cases in that county, nor to others in the state.
The Santa Clara County resident was treated at a local hospital and is not known to have traveled to Solano County, where public health officials have identified dozens of people — but less than 100 — who had close contact with the case announced Thursday. They are quarantined in their homes. and a few who have shown symptoms are in isolation, officials said.
COVID-19: CDC reports first case in U.S. with unknown connection
At UC Davis Medical Center, at least 124 registered nurses and other health care workers were sent home for “self-quarantine” after the woman with the virus was admitted, National Nurses United, a nationwide union representing RNs, said Friday.
“Despite University of California medical facilities being generally better prepared and equipped to treat challenging medical cases, the … case highlights the vulnerability of the nation’s hospitals to this virus,” the union said.
The case of the infected women marks an escalation of the worldwide outbreak in the U.S. because it means the virus could spread beyond the reach of preventative measures like quarantines, though state health officials said that was inevitable and that the risk of widespread transmission remains low.
California public health officials on Friday said more than 9,380 people are self-monitoring after arriving on commercial flights from China through Los Angeles and San Francisco. That’s up from the 8,400 that Newsom cited on Thursday, though officials said the number increases daily as more flights arrive.
Officials are not too worried, for now, about casual contact, because federal officials think the coronavirus is spread only through “close contact, being within six feet of somebody for what they’re calling a prolonged period of time,” said Dr. James Watt, interim state epidemiologist at the California Department of Public Health.
The virus can cause fever, coughing, wheezing and pneumonia. Health officials think it spreads mainly from droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how the flu spreads.
As infectious disease experts fanned out in the Solano County city of Vacaville, some residents in the city between San Francisco and Sacramento stocked up on supplies amid fears things could get worse despite official reassurances, while others took the news in stride.
The woman in the community who has coronavirus first sought treatment at NorthBay VacaValley Hospital in Vacaville, before her condition worsened and she was transferred to the medical center in Sacramento.
Trump says U.S. mulling over COVID-19 travel ban extension
Sacramento County’s top health official told The Sacramento Bee on Friday that he expects several medical workers to test positive themselves in the next few days. Numerous workers at both hospitals have been tested, but the tests were sent to labs approved by the CDC and generally take three to four days to complete.
Peter Beilenson, Sacramento County’s health services director, said he expects even those who test positive to become only mildly ill.
Confusion over how quickly the woman was tested for coronavirus concerned McKinsey Paz, who works at a private security firm in Vacaville. The company has already stockpiled 450 face masks and is scrambling for more “since they’re hard to come by.” The company’s owner bought enough cleaning and disinfectant supplies to both scrub down the office and send home with employees.
But they appeared to be at the extreme for preparations.
Eugenia Kendall was wearing a face mask, but in fear of anything including the common cold. Her immune system is impaired because she is undergoing chemotherapy, and she has long been taking such precautions.
“We’re not paranoid. We’re just trying to be practical,” said her husband of 31 years, Ivan Kendall. “We wipe the shopping carts if they have them, and when I get back in the car I wipe my hands — and just hope for the best.”
Experts in both communities are interviewing immediate family members and expanding their net to include more distant family members who may have been in contact, social gatherings like church that the patient may have attended and any possible time spent at work or events like a concert.
COVID-19: U.N. official says ‘window of opportunity’ for virus containment is narrowing
Besides the woman, all the other cases in the U.S. have been for people who traveled abroad or had close contact with others who traveled.
Earlier U.S. cases included 14 in people who returned from outbreak areas in China, or their spouses; three people who were evacuated from the central China city of Wuhan; and 42 American passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship.
The number of people sickened by the virus hovered Friday around 83,000, and there were more than 2,800 deaths, most of them in China.
© 2020 The Canadian Press
Ontario confirms new case of coronavirus in Toronto – Toronto Star
This copy is for your personal non-commercial use only. To order
presentation-ready copies of Toronto Star content for distribution
to colleagues, clients or customers, or inquire about
permissions/licensing, please go to: www.TorontoStarReprints.com
More from The Star & Partners
Coronavirus Live Updates: New Unexplained Cases Reported in the U.S. – The New York Times
Here’s what you need to know:
- New cases in three U.S. states raise prospect of local, person-to-person spread.
- Markets slide as the virus spreads across the globe.
- South Korea reports 594 new cases, and North calls for an all-out containment effort.
- For companies, how bad can it get?
- The White House is controlling the message. Historians say that is a bad idea.
New cases in three U.S. states raise prospect of local, person-to-person spread.
Troubling new signs of how the coronavirus is spreading in the United States emerged on Friday, as cases not explained by overseas travel or contact with a person known to be infected were reported in California, Oregon and Washington State.
Officials from the three states announced that their testing had found new cases: a high school student from Washington State; an employee of a school in Oregon, near Portland; and a woman in Santa Clara County, Calif., in the heart of Silicon Valley.
Sixty-five cases of the virus have been reported in the United States, but until this week, all of them could be explained by overseas travel or contact with someone who had been ill. The three new cases on Friday, and a case earlier in the week, in California, were the first in the United States in which the cause was mysterious and unknown — a sign, experts warned, that the virus might now be spreading in this country.
“If we were worried yesterday, we are even more worried today,” said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. “Now we have to ask: How widely, really widely, is this virus out there?”
As word emerged of the unexplained cases, local officials scrambled to trace everyone who had come in contact with those who were ill. California health officials said they were increasing testing. And in Washington State, officials suggested that people needed to prepare for the possibility of schools closing and businesses keeping workers home.
“We’re going to be increasingly recommending that people try and avoid crowds and close contact with other people,” Dr. Jeff Duchin, health officer for Public Health Seattle & King County, said. “We may get to a point where we want to recommend canceling large public gatherings — social events, sporting events, entertainment — until we get over a hump of what might be a large outbreak.”
Markets slide as the virus spreads across the globe.
Stocks tumbled for a seventh consecutive day on Friday, recording the market’s worst week since the 2008 financial crisis.
The S&P 500 index fell about 0.8 percent, and the Dow Jones industrial average fell more than 1 percent. The S&P index lost more than 11 percent in the week, and almost 13 percent since its peak on Feb. 19.
The sell-off was fueled mostly by worry that measures to contain the coronavirus would hamper corporate profits and economic growth, and fears that the outbreak could get worse. The selling has in a matter of days dragged stock benchmarks around the world into a correction — a drop of 10 percent or more that is taken as a measure of extreme pessimism.
In Europe, the Britain’s FTSE 100 fell more than 3 percent and the Dax in Germany fell more than 4 percent. In Asia, the Nikkei 225 in Japan closed down 3.7 percent, the KOSPI in South Korea dropped 3.3 percent and the Shanghai Composite in China dropped 3.7 percent.
South Korea reports 594 new cases, and North calls for an all-out containment effort.
South Korea, which has the largest coronavirus outbreak outside China, reported 594 new cases on Saturday morning, bringing its total to 2,931. In North Korea, Kim Jong-un ordered all-out efforts to fight the virus at a high-level meeting, state media reported.
South Korean officials have warned that confirmed cases would rise sharply as they aggressively tested thousands of people, particularly in the southeastern city of Daegu. More than 86 percent of patients have been in Daegu and nearby towns; many have been associated with a church called Shincheonji, which has a strong presence in Daegu.
The United States military, which has more than 28,000 personnel in South Korea, said on Saturday that the spouse of an American soldier infected with the virus had also tested positive for it. She had been in self-quarantine since Wednesday, following her husband’s diagnosis, and was being transported to a military hospital, the military said.
Also on Saturday, Mr. Kim, North Korea’s leader, convened the Politburo of his ruling party to order an all-out campaign to prevent an outbreak, state media reported. The North has not reported any coronavirus cases, but there has been concern that the secretive, totalitarian country could be hiding an outbreak.
“In case the infectious disease spreading beyond control finds its way into our country, it will entail serious consequences,” the North’s official Korean Central News Agency quoted Mr. Kim as saying. It said that officials had discussed “measures to deter the influx and spread of the infectious disease in a scientific, preemptive and lockdown way.”
North Korea has already closed its 930-mile border with China, where the coronavirus emerged, and its border with Russia. But the Chinese border has long been porous for smugglers, who ferry goods across the shallow river that separates the countries. The North has also suspended all flights and trains to and from China and asked all foreign diplomats not to leave their compounds.
The state media report Saturday also said that Mr. Kim had fired one of his top aides, Ri Man-gon, and another official for corruption, but it was unclear whether the dismissals were connected to the antivirus campaign.
Coronavirus Map: Tracking the Spread of the Outbreak
The virus has infected more than 85,100 people in at least 56 countries.
For companies, how bad can it get?
As the coronavirus outbreak spreads, the world’s biggest companies have begun painting a bleak picture of broken supply chains, disrupted manufacturing, empty stores and flagging demand for their wares.
The announcements by businesses like Mastercard, Microsoft, Apple and United Airlines offer a look at how the virus is affecting consumer behavior and business sentiment. These corporate bulletins — and what executives do in response — could determine how much economic damage the outbreak inflicts.
Some companies have expressed optimism that governments will curb new infections and that consumer spending in Europe and North America will be largely unscathed. But if executives see a threat beyond the first three months of the year, they may pare planned investments and even lay off workers.
The stock-market plunge this week, the steepest since the financial crisis, suggests that investors are bracing for a bad news.
“Everything is slowing down even more — and that has not been fully appreciated,” said Michael O’Rourke, chief market strategist at JonesTrading.
The White House is controlling the message. Historians say that is a bad idea.
Many times in many countries, political leaders have tried to censor health officials and play down the risks of infection just as epidemics approached. This strategy has almost never worked, historians and former health officials said.
And if there are more deaths than leaders predict, stonewalling destroys the reputations of the leaders themselves.
This week’s efforts to reorganize the Trump administration’s chaotic response to the coronavirus outbreak risk falling into that pattern. The White House will coordinate all messaging, the public was told, and scientists in the government will not be popping up on television talk shows, saying what they think.
That may not be a winning strategy, experts warned. The stock market reacts to rumors, and the Federal Reserve Bank may succumb to political pressure. But pathogens, like hurricanes and tsunamis, are immune to spin.
“It’s crucially important that experts tell the public what they know and when they know it,” said Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, a former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “That’s the only way to earn and maintain the public trust that is essential to work together as a society and fight an epidemic.”
As China awakened to the crisis, one community was left vulnerable.
When the coronavirus emerged in Wuhan, China, residents in a nearby suburb thought they were safe. Zuoling New Town, a bustling community of retired farmers, factory workers and white-collar professionals, was 22 miles from the market where the outbreak appeared to have started.
But as the virus spread, Zuoling emerged as a stubborn hot spot of infections, and a somber lesson in how the state’s effort to contain the virus left some communities vulnerable. The leadership’s top-down campaign relied on grass-roots mobilization, and the very newness and isolation of Zuoling proved to be a weakness, depriving residents of food supplies, medical care and labor.
Residents crammed into the only large supermarket to stock up. Those worried about fevers crowded the local clinic, and many were sent back to their high-rise homes, sometimes spreading the virus. The nearest public hospital assigned to take patients was 10 miles away, making it difficult to get treatment without a car.
“I never imagined that this would hit our home,” said Zhang Jin, a 47-year-old resident. His mother, Yan Yinzhen, who was living with him, contracted what doctors believed was the coronavirus, possibly from a neighbor. Mr. Zhang, his wife and father all fell ill.
“We’ve lost confidence,” said Mr. Zhang, a school bus driver. “Nobody in the neighborhood took charge.”
Reporting was contributed by Peter Eavis, Donald G. McNeil Jr., Choe Sang-Hun, Thomas Fuller, Sheri Fink, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Amy Qin and Sui-Lee Wee.
2nd COVID-19 case of unknown origin reported in California – Global News
The Driving Force in Irish Politics? Finding a Decent Place to Live – The New York Times
Aide: Media ignores Trump’s loving bond with 13-year-old son – CityNews Vancouver
Iran anticipates renewed protests amid social media shutdown
Popular Richmond BBQ spot speaks out about coronavirus rumours after man collapses outside restaurant – Vancouver Is Awesome
Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver reports January housing sales up 42.4 percent
- Media20 hours ago
Hong Kong pro-democracy media mogul Jimmy Lai arrested for 'illegal assembly' over 2019 protest – CNN
- Health17 hours ago
7th COVID-19 case confirmed in Ontario, man who travelled to Iran
- Politics21 hours ago
On Politics: Where Things Stand Before South Carolina – The New York Times
- Health15 hours ago
Ontario Confirms New Positive Case of COVID-19 – Government of Ontario News
- News20 hours ago
Canadians are coming home after being imprisoned abroad for terrorism-related crimes – Global News
- News21 hours ago
'Canada is broken,' say majority of Canadians in poll taken in wake of rail blockades – National Post
- Health24 hours ago
Ontario coronavirus case is province's first instance of human-to-human spread – Lethbridge News Now
- Economy17 hours ago
Canada’s economy posts tepid growth as virus uncertainty casts doubt over outlook