TORONTO – The number of Ontario residents infected with the novel coronavirus continued to climb on Friday as public health officials recorded six new cases in the past 36 hours, bringing the total in the province to 28 by late afternoon.
But officials said the risk of contracting the virus remains low, noting all recent cases involve people who have either recently visited global hotspots for the bug or their close relatives.
Officials said there is still no evidence of community spread in Ontario.
Ontario’s Ministry of Health reported a total of 22 provincewide cases on Thursday morning, but confirmed Friday evening the figure had climbed to 28. Four of those cases have been resolved.
Those latest additions included a Richmond Hill, Ont., woman in her 60s newly returned from Iran, a Toronto man in his 50s who recently travelled to the same country, and a Toronto resident who recently visited Las Vegas.
That man, who Toronto public health officials describe as in his 40s, also used city transit in Toronto for several days before he was tested for the virus.
“This information is being provided out of an abundance of caution. We’re talking about low-risk situations,” Dr. Eileen de Villa, the city’s chief medical officer of health, said Friday during a briefing.
Transit riders without symptoms of the illness known as COVID-19 do not need to seek medical help, de Villa said, unless they get a call from her department.
All of the recently identified patients are currently isolating themselves in their homes, the health ministry said.
In Peel Region, just west of Toronto, a couple who had been on the Grand Princess cruise ship in San Francisco was diagnosed after returning home to Mississauga, Ont.
Peel Public Health is reaching out to a select group of passengers who shared a WestJet flight with the couple on Feb. 28. Travellers seated in rows 18 to 22 on flight 1199 are being asked to self-isolate as a precautionary measure.
Another 237 Canadians currently aboard the Grand Princess have been forbidden from leaving the ship while some of the thousands of passengers aboard now are tested, according to a spokesperson for Princess Cruises.
Thus far in Ontario, all of the 28 patients known to be sick with the bug had recently travelled outside the country or were in close contact with another patient who had.
That’s a good sign, de Villa said, noting that throughout Canada the risk of contracting the virus remains low.
She urged calm and education in a climate of fear and misinformation.
“I think it is perfectly understandable that when there are uncertainties, people get concerned and people may worry,” she said. “I want to assure you that the city is well co-ordinated to respond. I encourage people to go about their regular lives, but stay informed.”
De Villa said there are measures people can take to prepare for a potential diagnosis.
“It’s helpful for people to consider the supplies that they would need at home if they were to become unwell with any illness, not just COVID-19,” she said. “For families, this may mean considering your household needs and how you would address those household needs … if someone were unwell.”
She said her team continues to monitor the situation closely and is working with counterparts in other regions.View link »