‘For the moment, we are not witnessing the uncontained global spread of this virus, and we are not witnessing large-scale severe disease or death’
Health officials in Ontario confirmed a “presumptive case” of coronavirus at Toronto’s Sunnybrook Hospital.
Ontario’s Minister of Health Christine Elliott was joined by City of Toronto’s medical officer Dr. Eileen de Villa on Saturday evening to make the announcement.
“We the first presumptive case here in our city,” said de Villa, who said they learned about the case earlier this afternoon.
According to the province, on Thursday, January 23, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre admitted a patient brought in by paramedics who had fever and respiratory symptoms.
They say the patient, a man in his 50s, was screened and recent travel history to Wuhan, China, was confirmed and the patient was immediately put under isolation.
“Diagnostic testing was conducted, and specimens were sent to the Public Health Ontario Laboratory to confirm the diagnosis. On Saturday, January 25, the Public Health Lab confirmed the case as a presumptive positive case,” stated the province in a release.
Officials said the man is now in stable condition, and they are continuing their investigation into the case.
“There has been a tremendous amount of learning since the 2003 SARS crisis, which has helped prepare us for a situation like this,” said Dr. Jerome Leis, Sunnybrook’s Medical Director of Infection Prevention and Control, in a statement.
“We followed our usual practice of systematic screening which allowed is to rapidly identify this patient, send appropriate testing, and institute the necessary precautions. I feel confident in our ability to respond appropriately and limit the spread of infection.”
Sunnybrook said it remains open and clinics and procedures will continue to operate as per normal, adding that the hospital is safe for patients and visitors.
“Today, Toronto Public Health confirmed the first presumptive confirmed case of coronavirus in Toronto. While we now have one presumptive confirmed case, our health officials are clear that the risk to residents continues to remain low,” said Toronto Mayor John Tory. “Toronto Public Health is continuing to work closely with provincial and federal health colleagues to actively monitor the situation and respond as appropriate.”
Following the news, the province said it launched a website dedicated to coronavirus in Ontario.
Symptoms of the illness include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, and most cases have been linked to the Huanan Seafood Market (also known as Wuhan South China Seafood City and South China Seafood Wholesale Market), according to the Government of Canada.
Some cases, however, have not been linked to the market, and the virus’ source is still unknown. The seafood market has reportedly been closed since January 1 for cleaning and disinfection.
“Chinese health authorities and the World Health Organization (WHO) have confirmed human-to-human transmission has occurred; however there is no clear evidence that this virus is easily transmitted between people at this time,” states the federal government.
“The overall risk to Canadian travellers and to Canada remains low.”
Toronto Public Health learned of the coronavirus outbreak — then described as cases of undiagnosed viral pneumonia — earlier this month, and announced that they were monitoring the situation.
Washington pledges $1 billion for coronavirus vaccine as pandemic risks grow – The Journal Pioneer
By Hyonhee Shin and Ryan Woo
SEOUL/BEIJING (Reuters) – South Korea aims to test more than 200,000 members of a church at the center of a surge in coronavirus cases, as countries stepped up efforts to stop a pandemic of the virus that emerged in China and is now spreading in Europe and the Middle East.
More than 80,000 people have been infected in China since the outbreak began, apparently in an illegal wildlife market in the central city of Wuhan late last year.
China’s death toll was 2,663 by the end of Monday, up 71 from the previous day. But the World Health Organization (WHO) has said the epidemic in China peaked between Jan. 23 and Feb. 2 and has been declining since.
However, fast-spreading outbreaks in Iran, Italy and South Korea, and first cases in several Middle East countries, have fed worries of a pandemic, or worldwide spread of the virus.
“We are close to a pandemic, but there is still hope the epidemics in Iran, Italy, South Korea, etc. can be controlled,” said Raina MacIntyre, head of the Biosecurity Program at the Kirby Institute at the University of New South Wales.
South Korea has the most virus cases outside China and reported its tenth death and 144 new cases, for a total of 977. President Moon Jae-in said the situation was “very grave”.
In Europe, Italy has become a new front line, with 220 cases reported on Monday, up from just three on Friday. The death toll in Italy is seven.
Global stock markets stabilized on Tuesday after a wave of early selling petered out and Wall Street futures managed a solid bounce after a sharp selloff the previous day on fears about the spreading coronavirus.
“If travel restrictions and supply chain disruptions spread, the impact on global growth could be more widespread and longer lasting,” said Jonas Goltermann, senior economist at research consultancy Capital Economics in London.
(Live blog: Online site for coronavirus news – https://www.reuters.com/live-events/coronavirus-6-id2921484)
About 68% of South Korea’s cases are linked to the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, where the outbreak is believed to have begun with a 61-year-old woman. It is not known how she became infected.
The church said it would provide authorities the names of all its members in South Korea, estimated by media at about 215,000 people. The government would test them all as soon as possible, the prime minister’s office said.
“It is essential to test all of the church members,” it said in a statement. Authorities said they were testing up to 13,000 people a day.
The U.S. and South Korean militaries have said they may cut back joint training due to the virus, in one of the first concrete signs of its fallout on global U.S. military activities.
The disclosure came during a visit to the Pentagon on Monday by South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo, who said 13 South Korean troops had the virus. (Graphic: Tracking the novel coronavirus – https://graphics.reuters.com/CHINA-HEALTH-MAP/0100B59S39E/index.html)
The U.S. military said a woman who tested positive for the virus had visited one of its bases in the hard-hit city of Daegu. It was the first infection connected to U.S. Forces Korea, which has about 28,500 American troops on the peninsula.
The U.S. military urged troops to “use extreme caution” off base, while the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Americans should avoid non-essential travel to South Korea.
Outside mainland China, the outbreak has spread to about 29 countries and territories, with a death toll of about three dozen, according to a Reuters tally.
Afghanistan, Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait and Oman reported their first new coronavirus cases, all in people who had been to Iran where the toll was 14 dead, media said, and 61 infected.
The outbreak threatens to isolate Iran further. The United Arab Emirates, which has 13 virus cases, suspended all flights with Iran for at least a week, state media said.
Iraq extended an entry ban on travelers from China and Iran to those from five other countries over virus fears, its health ministry said. (Reuters graphics on the new coronavirus – https://graphics.reuters.com/CHINA-HEALTH-GRAPHICS/0100B5CD3DP/index.html)
In Japan, which has reported four deaths and 850 cases mostly linked to a cruise ship, Health Minister Katsunobu Kato said it was too early to talk about cancelling the Tokyo Olympics due to start on July 24.
The United States pledged $2.5 billion to fight the disease, with more than $1 billion going toward developing a vaccine, with other funds earmarked for therapeutics and the stockpiling of personal protective equipment such as masks.
China reported a rise in new cases in Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak. But excluding those, China had just nine new infections on Monday, its fewest since Jan. 20.
With the pace of new infections slowing, Beijing said restrictions on travel and movement that have paralyzed economic activity should begin to be lifted.
“Low-risk areas … are to restore order in production and life, cancel transport restrictions and help enterprises,” state planner official Ou Xiaoli told a briefing.
[Interactive graphic tracking global spread of coronavirus https://graphics.reuters.com/CHINA-HEALTH-MAP/0100B59S39E/index.html]
(Reporting by Ryan Woo, Yilei Sun and Lusha Zhang in Beijing; Hyonhee Shin and Josh Smith in Seoul; Jeff Mason and Phil Stewart in Washington; Writing by Michael Perry and Robert Birsel; Editing by Stephen Coates & Simon Cameron-Moore)
WHO says COVID-19 coronavirus 'not yet' a pandemic, while Canada diagnoses 11th case – Calgary Herald
Canada has done a decent job of detecting patients arriving with the novel coronavirus, but COVID-19 is going to become more difficult to contain as it spreads globally, the country’s chief medical officer said.
Meanwhile, the head of the World Health Organization said that while it’s still too early to declare COVID-19 a pandemic, the sudden outbreaks in Italy, Iran and South Korea “are deeply concerning.”
“For the moment, we are not witnessing the uncontained global spread of this virus, and we are not witnessing large-scale severe disease or death,” WHO director general Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said in a briefing. “Does this virus have pandemic potential? Absolutely, it has. Are we there yet? From our assessment, not yet.”
As of Monday, China had reported about 77,362 cases of COVID-19 and 2,618 deaths. China’s unprecedented lockdown and restrictions may have blunted the coronavirus and averted hundreds of thousands of cases, according to a team of medical experts that visited the outbreak’s epicentre last week. However, the virus continues to spread, with Afghanistan, Bahrain and Kuwait reporting their first cases.
Speaking of the escalating number of cases, Canada’s chief medical officer Dr. Theresa Tam said countries need to be prepared.
“These signs are concerning, and they mean that the window of opportunity for containment, that is for stopping the global spread of the virus, is closing,” Tam told media.
In Italy, six people have died after the country’s cases jumped to more than 200. South Korea has identified 763 cases, with 605 of them being transmitted within the country; seven people had died as of Monday morning. Iran has reported 43 cases and eight deaths.
South Korea declared the first red alert in the country since the 2009 H1N1 swine flu epidemic.
Kuwait’s civil aviation authority announced it suspended all flights to and from South Korea, Thailand and Italy.
And Air Canada said it would allow travellers to rebook flights to parts of Italy at no charge following the spike in coronavirus cases, making the country home to the biggest outbreak in Europe.
The Canadian government has updated its advice to travellers returning from abroad, asking them to monitor themselves for symptoms of COVID-19 for two weeks after they return, no matter where they travelled.
British Columbia has confirmed its seventh case of the coronavirus in a man in his 40s who had close contact with the woman diagnosed as the sixth case last week after she returned from Iran. The man had symptoms before the woman’s diagnosis and additional people who had contact with them are currently in isolation and being monitored, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said.
The total number of cases in Canada is now 11, with Ontario announcing its fourth case on Sunday. A Toronto woman in her 20s contracted a mild case while travelling in China. The woman had travelled to Wuhan — the centre of the outbreak — before it was quarantined, then went elsewhere in the country before returning to Canada on Feb. 21. Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario’s associate chief medical officer of health, said given the limited contact with others and the woman’s mild illness, she likely presents a low risk.
WHO executive director Dr. Michael J. Ryan said it’s impossible to tell if COVID-19 will eventually be contained, develop into a full-blown global pandemic, or settle down into a seasonal pattern of transmission, much like the flu. But now is the time for countries to prepare for the worst.
“We believe that all countries are vulnerable,” Ryan said. “It is time to do everything you would do in preparing for a pandemic.”
The window of opportunity for containment is closing
That means preparing to take and treat cases and putting in place adequate containment measures, he said, warning that healthcare systems in even the most developed countries are already strained.
The goal is to hold the virus off for as long as possible before it starts spreading from person to person within the country, Tam said. Getting past the flu season without a major outbreak would seriously ease the burden on hospitals.
Meanwhile, hundreds of Canadians remain in mandatory quarantine after being repatriated from Wuhan, China, and the Diamond Princess cruise ship near Japan, on which many people were stricken with the virus earlier this month.
All of the evacuees who returned to Canada are in good health and show no signs of the virus, Tam said. Those from Wuhan who have been isolated in the Canadian Forces Base Trenton for two weeks are expected to be released Tuesday, the second largest group of evacuees to be allowed to go home.
— With files from the Canadian Press, Bloomberg and Reuters
Seventh case of novel coronavirus confirmed in B.C.
CINDY E. HARNETT
A seventh case of the novel coronavirus has been diagnosed in British Columbia, bringing the number of cases in Canada to 11.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Monday the man is a close contact of another infected person, a woman who returned to the province last week from travel in Iran. Both are in stable condition and in isolation in the Fraser Valley.
The first person in B.C. with COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, has recovered. Three people are recovering at home, and another is no longer symptomatic.
“This is a rapidly evolving situation,” Henry said. Health officials are confident they have identified all the contacts of the new cases and there’s no reason for anyone in the public to go in for testing unless contacted by public health officials.
COVID-19 is primarily spread through close contact with an infected person and breathing in droplets that are in the air after someone coughs.
There are almost 78,000 cases of confirmed cases of COVID-19 around the world after it broke out in Wuhan, China, in December. Some health officials are warning that the time to contain coronavirus is running out, a time sensitivity that Henry raised as she spoke to the media.
“I think it’s really important to recognize that the global situation is evolving also very rapidly and we’ve heard over the weekend of the dramatic increase in the number of cases in a number of countries, particularly in Italy, and around the world,” she said.
“We are still very much in what we call containment here in British Columbia. Although there is widespread transmission in some areas of the world, we are not in that position yet, but we are preparing for that. We are preparing for all of the possibilities that we might see over the coming weeks.”
Henry said health officials are hoping the new coronavirus will be similar to influenza and other respiratory viruses that circulate during winter and typically wane in early spring.
“But we are not out of the woods yet, and, really, that buys us time,” she said.
If the virus can’t be contained and eradicated from human transmission, Henry said it might arise next influenza season, by which time anti-viral medications and a vaccine could be developed.
Public health officials continue to stress simple hygiene regimes: washing hands, coughing into sleeves and staying away from others if you’re sick.
B.C. is not screening at airports but is stepping up advice and measures for travellers, Henry said, without sharing specifics.
Many more Canadians who were outside of the country have tested positive for the virus.
They include 129 people who were aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which was docked in Yokohama, Japan, since early February, being repatriated to Cornwall, Ont., on Friday. They will be in isolation for 14 days.
Henry asked anyone travelling internationally to monitor themselves and their children. Anyone with symptoms should limit their contact with others and contact their primary care provider, local public health office or call the 811 healthline to reduce the possibility of passing the virus on to others.
B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Henry said Monday that B.C. has a robust system for identifying people who have the virus and the number of cases here is low.
Testing for the disease is being conducted by the B.C. Centre for Disease Control and is no longer being sent for confirmation to the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg.
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