Ontario confirms eighth coronavirus case; man had travelled to Egypt

TORONTO — Ontario health officials say they have confirmed a new positive case of COVID-19 in Toronto.

Dr. David Williams, medical officer of health, said Friday night that this is the eighth case of novel coronavirus in the province.

Officials said the patient is a man in his 80s with a travel history to Egypt.

He arrived in Toronto on Feb. 20 and went to the Scarborough Health Network’s General Hospital’s emergency department on Thursday.

Officials said he was isolated as he was tested for COVID-19 and discharged the same day feeling well and went home, where he remains.

“Throughout his travels, the man wore a mask,” the Ontario Ministry of Health said in a release. “Toronto Public Health is actively engaged in contact tracing and case management.”

The government noted that Ontario’s first three cases are all resolved, with each of those patients having two consecutive negative tests at least 24 hours apart.

The outbreak of the virus known as COVID-19 began in China, and that country continues to have the most cases by far, but there have been emerging clusters in other countries such as South Korea, Italy and Iran.

Iran has so far recorded 388 cases and 34 deaths.

In Canada, most of the recent cases in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia have been in people who had travelled to Iran.

Quebec public health officials announced Friday night that the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg has confirmed the province’s first case of the novel coronavirus.

Health Minister Danielle McCann announced Thursday that a woman who returned to Montreal on Monday from Iran was believed to have the COVID-19 virus, but confirmation was needed from the federal laboratory.

The Health Department said the patient’s close contacts have been advised of the appropriate precautionary measures. The woman had minor symptoms that did not require hospitalization and is currently in isolation at her home.

“I would like to highlight the civic-mindedness of the patient, who hastened to take preventive and hygiene measures to avoid those around her from becoming infected,” said Yves Jalbert, deputy head of Quebec’s public health agency.

Earlier Thursday, officials announced that Ontario’s seventh case is a man in his 50s who arrived in Toronto from Iran on Tuesday and went to the emergency department of Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre the next day.

Proper protocols went into place at the hospital and the man was isolated as he was tested for COVID-19. The man was sent home the same day to recover and has been in self-isolation since then.

“The risk of being infected with COVID-19 in Ontario remains very low,” Williams said.

Toronto Public Health is reaching out to people who came into contact with the man.

Health Minister Christine Elliott stressed the low risk to the public, but also said the province is prepared, if the situation escalates.

“We are ready should the situation change from what it is now, but as I’ve indicated, the risk remains very low,” she said. “But it is important for all Ontarians to know we are prepared. Our hospitals are prepared. We have the protective equipment we need to protect our health officials and we are ready to move immediately should the situation change at any time.”

Canada now has 16 confirmed cases, including seven in British Columbia and one in Quebec.

The head of the World Health Organization said Friday that the risk of the virus spreading worldwide was “very high,” citing the “continued increase in the number of cases and the number of affected countries.”

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