Montreal Liberal MP Anthony Housefather says he is in self-isolation “out of an abundance of caution” after attending an event where someone had COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus.
Housefather confirmed the move to Global News, saying he is waiting to hear recommendations for next steps from Toronto Public Health but does not feel any symptoms.
“Last night, we received an email saying that an attendee at the AIPAC conference from Toronto tested positive for the COVID-19 virus,” Housefather wrote in an email to Global News.
“Toronto Public Health has to do tracing of that individual and so we were advised to stay at home await their recommendation. Out of an abundance of caution, I am self-isolating at home awaiting further instruction from Toronto Public Health officials.
“I feel absolutely fine and it has already been a week since I left the conference. I hope to receive further information from Toronto Public Health in the next day.”
The AIPAC conference refers to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee meeting that took place in Washington, D.C., last week.
The guest list at that conference included many public figures and government officials, U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo among them.
Former Prime Minister Stephen Harper was also a guest at the conference. A photo posted on his Twitter account on March 2 showed him posing alongside Pence.
“I was honoured to meet Vice President Mike Pence @VP at #AIPAC2020 in Washington DC today,” Harper’s tweet stated. “The @IDUAlliance is proud to have @GOP as a founding member of our global network of centre-right parties.”
At least two people who attended have since tested positive for the coronavirus. Housefather said he has been told one of those individuals was from Toronto.
He also isn’t the only Canadian official going into self-isolation as a result of contact with a person who has the virus.
Toronto city councillor Josh Matlow put out a statement on Monday saying he has been informed that he came into contact with a person last week who had been at a conference in Washington and tested positive for COVID-19 once they returned.
He also said he didn’t have any symptoms but had been advised to self-isolate as a precaution.
There are currently 74 confirmed or presumed cases of the virus in Canada.
Worldwide cases currently stand at roughly 110,000 across more than 100 countries.
Canadian health officials reported the country’s first coronavirus death on Monday as well.
The deceased was a resident of a care home in British Columbia.
Governments across the country and around the world are working on various degrees of emergency preparedness plans.
The U.S. has shut down its border to Canadians who have travelled to regions with outbreaks, while Italy — the epicentre of the outbreak in Europe — has put roughly 16 million people into lockdown in an attempt to contain the rapid spread of the virus across that country.
South Korea and Iran are also grappling with the domestic spread of the virus, which originated in China.
The vast majority of global cases are in China but the spread of COVID-19 there has been slowing in recent weeks.
Wuhan, the city considered the origin of the outbreak, put roughly 11 million residents into an unprecedented quarantine in January to try to contain the spread.
Millions other in surrounding cities were also locked down.
Spread of the virus worldwide and among individuals has largely been linked to contact among infected travellers.
The Public Health Agency of Canada is asking anyone who has travelled to a region experiencing an outbreak to self-isolate for 14 days.