Canada has confirmed its first “presumptive” case of the deadly coronavirus in Toronto as the number of infections worldwide surpasses 1,400 cases.
Public health officials announced Saturday afternoon the confirmed case — a man in his 50s who had travelled to Wuhan, China — was found at Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.
The man flew from Wuhan to Guangzhou, then from Guangzhou to Toronto, arriving on Jan. 22. Upon arriving, he said he felt ill and 911 was contacted. Paramedics were fully protected when they picked him up, and he was taken to Sunnybrook, said Dr. David Williams, the province’s chief medical officer of health.
Officials say lab results were received Saturday afternoon. The man is currently in stable condition.
Watch: Medical officials discuss the presumptive coronavirus case.
Williams said he was reassured in speaking with Toronto paramedics that first responders took all necessary high-level precautions to respond “right from that first contact” until the hand-off to the hospital’s emergency department.
Officials are now trying to determine exactly how much contact the man would have had with others since his return to Canada, but believe it would have been limited to members of his household.
Anyone who lived with the man is in “self-isolation,” said Dr. Barbara Yaffe, associate chief medical officer of health with the provincial Ministry of Health.
Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre is caring for a patient who has a confirmed case of the novel coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China.<br><br>The patient is in stable condition and has been admitted to an isolation room. More info: <a href=”https://t.co/BDLgqfjAzw”>https://t.co/BDLgqfjAzw</a>
It’s unknown whether anyone travelling on the plane with the individual may have been exposed to the virus. Williams told reporters people without symptoms are deemed to be not contagious, but to what degree the man displayed symptoms in-flight has yet to be determined.
The man is believed to have been “privately transported” from the airport to his home. Officials don’t believe he took any public transit and have not said what part of the city the man lives in.
So far, there have been 41 reported deaths attributed to the virus globally.
The majority of infections have been inside China, where the virus has mostly been concentrated in Wuhan city, although there have been confirmed cases reported in Shanghai and Beijing, along with Hong Kong and Macao.
Outside of China, cases have been confirmed in France, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, the United States, Vietnam, Australia and Malaysia.
Toronto Mayor John Tory said he has “complete confidence” in the city’s medical officer of health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, to co-ordinate the city’s response. “Our front-line health-care workers are the best in the world and have procedures in place to keep people safe,” Tory said in a statement.
“Toronto Public Health is continuing to work closely with provincial and federal health colleagues to actively monitor the situation and respond as appropriate.”
Confirmation of a Canadian infection comes just one day after Williams said it was only “a matter of where and when” the virus would arrive in Canada.
“Ontario is ready, our systems are ready,” Williams said in a news conference Friday. “We’re light years away of where we were in 2003,” he said, referring to the SARS outbreak that killed 44 people in the Toronto area.
Dr. Peter Donnelly, CEO of Public Health Ontario, said Friday the province has testing that lets medical professionals know within 24 hours whether an illness is this new coronavirus type.
Williams says screening measures are in place at the airport to ascertain if anyone has symptoms coming off flights from China in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. If need be, passengers will be referred to local hospitals, with the individual’s travel history available to the hospital they may arrive at.
British Columbia’s minister of health and provincial health officer said there have been no cases in B.C. and the overall risk to the province is still low. “”We are closely watching the situation in Canada and globally and are meeting regularly with our counterparts across the country to make sure we are prepared if cases arise in B.C.,” Adrian Dix and Dr. Bonnie Henry said in a statement issued Saturday.
Watch: Full news conference on presumptive coronavirus case.