Ontario health officials have announced a new presumptive case of novel coronavirus in Toronto two days after all cases were cleared in the province.
The latest presumptive case of COVID-19 is a woman from China who landed in Canada on Feb. 21, according to a statement by Ontario’s Ministry of Health.
Taking advice from Telehealth Ontario, she went to North York General Hospital’s emergency department “with an intermittent cough that was improving.”
“As per established infection, prevention and control protocols, the patient was cared for at North York General Hospital using all appropriate precautions including being isolated and was tested for COVID-19,” the statement says.
“Being mildly ill, the woman was discharged home and, per protocols, went into self-isolation.”
The latest presumptive case was announced two days after Ontario’s previous three cases were declared cleared on Friday.
Three people in Ontario had previously been diagnosed with COVID-19, including a married couple in Toronto and a Western University student in London, Ont., after all of them had recently returned from travelling in China.
Toronto Public Health has been notified of the latest presumptive case and has been following up with the woman.
Her case is considered a presumptive case, meaning the provincial laboratory has tested it but the sample is on its way to the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg for final confirmation.
This would mark the third case for the city of Toronto. In a statement, Toronto Mayor John Tory said that the past two confirmed cases in the city have recovered from their illness.
“This latest case shows the system is working to keep people safe,” he said. “Our health officials are clear that the risk to residents continues to remain low.”
As of Friday, Canada had seen nine confirmed cases of COVID-19 — the three cleared ones in Ontario, and six in British Columbia. The vast majority of COVID-19 cases and deaths worldwide are centered in China, where the outbreak first began last month. As of Saturday, China had reported a total of approximately 77,000 infections and more than 2,400 deaths.
Far more Canadians are affected by the virus outside of the country. An outbreak of COVID-19 aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship saw 47 Canadians infected.
The cruise ship was docked in Yokohama, Japan, and placed under quarantine. People who were diagnosed with the illness are being treated at hospitals there, while those without symptoms were flown back to Ontario on Friday, where they’re going through another 14 days of isolation.
The woman wore a mask as she travelled back to Toronto, and also had “very limited exposure” to other people once she landed.
“Given the individual’s clinical assessment and history, there is a low risk that she was infectious,” the province’s statement says.
The province is working with local public health authorities in reaching out to passengers who were close to the woman on the plane. No flight details were provided in the ministry’s statement.
Provincial chief medical officer of health Dr. David Williams said in the statement that the risk to people in Ontario “remains low.”
Ontario public health officials are holding a briefing Monday morning at Queen’s Park.
— With files by The Canadian Press