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Public Health confirms 1st COVID-19 case in Waterloo Region

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COVID-19 has arrived in Waterloo Region, according to public health officials.

“Last evening, we received mandatory confirmation of our first case of COVID-19, also known as novel coronavirus in Waterloo Region,” Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang, the region’s acting medical officer of health, said at a press conference in Kitchener on Thursday. “The confirmed case is a female in her 50s and is a resident of Waterloo Region.”

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The woman is said to have had mild symptoms on flights from Milan to Lisbon (Flight 827; Air Portugal) and then Lisbon to Toronto (Flight 259; Air Portugal) on Tuesday.

Officials said that upon landing at Pearson Airport, the woman was privately transported to Grand River Hospital (GRH).

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“She is recovering and she has been released from hospital and is self-isolating, Wang said. “This case does not represent an increased risk to residents in Waterloo Region and the risk in our region remains low.

“That said, we are preparing for the likelihood of additional cases in Canada, Ontario and Waterloo Region.”

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Dr. William Ciccotelli, medical director of infection control at Grand River Hospital, said there was minimal risk to staff and to other patients at the hospital as the woman was taken care of with special cautions.

“The patient came in wearing a mask and was promptly managed through the triage into the airborne isolation unit,” he explained.

Ciccotelli said she was sent home into isolation after only a couple of hours at the hospital.

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“She has a small family and the other members are also in self-isolation,” Wang said.

The woman will have to remain in quarantine until she is clear of the virus.

“It will be until she no longer has symptoms and she will have tested negative on two subsequent tests 24 hours apart,” Wang said.

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Public Health says it is working to obtain the manifests of the flights so it can contact passengers to make them aware.

Wang said that this will not likely be the last time the disease pops up in Waterloo region but this particular incident does not increase the risk factor.

“If we look at the overall picture in our region, the virus is not currently circulating,” she explained. “This is an example of a case that was acquired upon being in another country, and then once she came to our region, she was appropriately assessed, managed and isolated.

“So that’s why the situation in Waterloo Region hasn’t really changed in terms of the overall risk of spreading this virus.”

Wang says Waterloo Public Health is currently reviewing preparedness plans in case more incidents occur in the area.
“We’re preparing for the likelihood that there will be increased cases in Waterloo Region, just like elsewhere in the province and the country,” she explained. “We have been working and will continue to work with our local health care providers like our hospitals, to ensure that we’re prepared for the possibility of increased cases.”
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