A man wears a masks as a precaution due to the coronavirus outbreak as people arrive from the International terminal at Toronto Pearson International Airport in Toronto on Saturday, January 25, 2020. Canadian health officials announced a first presumed case in Ontario after the illness has sickened more than 1,200 people and killed at least 41 in China, the epicentre of the outbreak. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Officials reaching out to those in contact with Canada’s first coronavirus patient

The illness has sickened at least 1,975 people and killed 56 in China

Officials in Toronto are interviewing all those who had contact with the man diagnosed with Canada’s first case of the new coronavirus to ensure none of them were infected.

Authorities announced yesterday that they had detected the respiratory illness in a man who recently travelled to Toronto from Wuhan, China, the epicentre of the virus.

He’s being quarantined at Sunnybrook Hospital, and his family members are in “self isolation” as a precaution to keep the disease from spreading.

The illness has sickened at least 1,975 people and killed 56 in China, but it remains to be seen whether it’s as dangerous as the common flu, which kills 3,500 people every year in Canada alone.

Health Minister Patty Hajdu and Dr. Theresa Tam, chief public health officer, are set to hold a news conference this morning to provide an update on the situation.

Meanwhile, Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, believes the risk of contracting the virus in the province remains low.

He said the strategy of educating the public — championed by the federal government — appears to have worked, at least in the case of the first patient.

“The individual, knowing his responsibility, when feeling unwell, even without having really severe symptoms, was concerned enough and informed prompt enough,” Williams told a news conference on Saturday evening. “That just tells you that people have knowledge of it, they want to take proper precautions to protect their health and protect their family members and others.”

READ MORE: Here’s what Canada is doing to stop the coronavirus from getting in

Tam told reporters on Thursday that rather than screening every single passenger coming to Canada from China, the federal government was instead providing travellers with information about what to do should they start to feel sick.

The new virus comes from a large family of coronaviruses, some causing nothing worse than a common cold.

But in late 2002, a coronavirus called severe acute respiratory syndrome erupted in southern China, causing a severe pneumonia that rapidly spread to other countries. SARS infected more than 8,000 people and killed nearly 800, including 44 Canadians. Toronto was hard hit in that outbreak.

A decade later, another coronavirus dubbed Middle East respiratory syndrome began sickening people in Saudi Arabia. MERS is still prevalent, causing small numbers of infections each year. The World Health Organization has counted nearly 2,500 cases in the Middle East and beyond, and more than 850 deaths.

READ MORE: Risk of coronavirus low in B.C. as first case emerges in Toronto, officials say

SARS and MERS came from animals, and this newest virus may have as well. The first people infected visited or worked at a seafood market in the Chinese city of Wuhan, which has been placed under quarantine since the outbreak.

Canadian authorities have said such a quarantine won’t happen here, even if there is an outbreak.

The federal government has beefed up measures at major airports in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal, asking travellers whether they had been to Wuhan in the past 14 days, with a positive response triggering further investigation.

Everyone is also 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.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

The Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 27 to Oct. 3

World Farm Animals Day, Drink Beer Day and Virus Appreciation Day are all coming up this week

COVID-19 cases grow to 13 at B.C. First Nation near Fort St. James

“This is very serious,” says Nak’azdli Whut’en Chief

Cullen confirmed as B.C. NDP candidate for Stikine despite party’s equity policy

Former Tahltan Central Government President Annita McPhee said the process made her feel “abused”

Freeport — the camp site that was the region’s largest community

A story of the construction of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway

Burns Lake to get a pedestrian-activated light

The blind turn at the RBC crossing to get safer

Weekend sees 267 cases, 3 deaths in B.C.; Dr. Henry says events leading to COVID spread

There are currently 1,302 active cases in B.C., while 3,372 people are under public health monitoring

Lightning strike: Tampa Bay blanks Dallas 2-0 to win Stanley Cup

Hedman wins Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP

16 MLAs retiring from B.C. politics add up to $20M in pensions: Taxpayers Federation

Taxpayers pay $4 for every dollar MLAs contribute to their pensions

Liberals seek to fast track new COVID-19 aid bill after CERB expires

Government secured NDP support for legislation by hiking amount of benefits by $100 to $500 per week

B.C. VOTES 2020: Echoes of HST in B.C. debate over sales tax

Cannabis, tobacco, luxury cars still taxed in B.C. Liberal plan

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

She warned her son about toxic drugs, then he was dead

Donna Bridgman’s son died at the age of 38 in Vancouver

B.C. food and beverage producers set record sales in 2019

Farmed salmon again leads international exports

Single vehicle rollover on Highway 16 claims life of young woman near Vanderhoof

The single vehicle incident occurred at Highway 16 and Hillcrest Way

Most Read