The government of Ontario is actively monitoring the new coronavirus, and says it is fully prepared to respond, even though the risks remain low at this time.
To date, there have been no confirmed cases in Canada.
Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, said that as of Wednesday, to strengthen the ministry’s ability to monitor any coronavirus cases, the province is adding novel coronavirus as a designated disease reportable under Ontario’s public health legislation.
“Now, physicians, hospitals and other care facilities will be required to report a suspected or confirmed case of the new coronavirus to their local medical officer of health. The local public health unit can then quickly and effectively take all necessary measures to investigate, complete lab tests and do case, and contact management to prevent and control further spread of the infection.”
This makes Ontario’s reporting requirements aligning with BC and Alberta.
Elliot said that it is also important to note that Ontario’s health system today is far more prepared to respond to any potential health risks than in the past.
“We now have mechanisms in place, which have strengthened how health care providers work together and coordinate responses to emerging public health issues, such as this new virus,” she said.
Toronto Public Health is also actively monitoring the contagious coronavirus that has broken out in Wuhan, China.
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.
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.
They maintain that as of Tuesday, the risk to Toronto residents remains low.
“Again, I want to reiterate our top priority will always remain safeguarding the health of the public, patients, and providers. These changes announced today support this commitment to protecting Ontarians,” said Elliot.