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.