Coronavirus risk remains low in Toronto despite WHO's global health emergency declaration

Jan 31 2020, 7:09 am

Toronto Public Health says that Toronto’s coronavirus risk remains low, even after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a global public health emergency.

In a statement issued on Thursday, Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, said that this type of emergency “describes an extraordinary event which is determined to constitute a public health risk through the international spread of disease.”

De Villa said that the risk to the community is still low, and that the city would know if this changes.

“Upon the first reports of 2019-nCoV in China, Toronto Public Health experts and our provincial and federal health partners implemented response protocols and outbreak preparedness measures. These efforts are ongoing and we continually look for opportunities to refine and strengthen our response,” said de Villa. “The declaration of this public health emergency of international concern has little impact on our daily operations.”

As the number of coronavirus outbreaks around the globe continues to climb, WHO declared a global health emergency on Thursday.

“There are now 98 cases in 18 countries outside China, including either cases of human-to-human transmission in four countries: Germany, Japan, Vietnam, and the United States of America,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization.

“So far we have not seen any deaths outside China, for which we must all be grateful,” he added. “Although these numbers are still relatively small compared to the number of cases in China, we must all act together now to limit further spread.”

Locally, de Villa said the Toronto Public Health team continues to work with local hospitals, airports, and community agencies.

“We also continue to operate our hotline for those with questions about this virus to connect with a health professional. I encourage people who have questions to contact us at 416-338-7600,” she said.

De Villa’s statement was released prior to Canada’s first patient being discharged from hospital.

According to Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, on Friday morning, they discharged the patient who was hospitalized last week with the novel coronavirus.

“Over the course of the week, his status continued to improve to the point where he no longer required in-patient care,” read the statement.

Sunnybrook Health said the patient will remain in isolation at home.

As of Friday morning, the Ontario government said that 17 coronavirus cases are currently under investigation in the province.

The number of confirmed cases remains at three, with two in Ontario, and one in BC. The two in Ontario, a husband and wife in their mid-50s, are now confirmed to be at home.