Coronavirus: Hamilton public health confirms 2nd positive test for COVID-19

The City of Hamilton has created two COVID-19 assessment centres. Don Mitchell / Global News

Hamilton Public Health has confirmed that a 52-year-old man is the second case of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus disease, in the city.

The agency says the man was returning from New York City on March 5 when he first showed symptoms; he was subsequently tested in Hamilton on March 10 at the Urgent Care Clinic on Main St. W.

The case is travel-related and not connected to the previously reported confirmed case of COVID-19 in Burlington, according to the city’s medical officer, Dr. Elizabeth Richardson.

“The individual in question took appropriate steps by self-monitoring, isolating himself, seeking assessment and, ultimately, being tested, ” said Richardson.

“All respiratory precautions were followed, and no one else was put at risk. The risk of contracting the virus is still low, but residents are encouraged to monitor this evolving situation.”

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In a briefing at City Hall on Thursday afternoon, associate medical officer Dr. Bart Harvey says health officials became aware of the infection on Wednesday afternoon.

“He was contacted by a colleague who was at the same meeting who’s in Boston, to say, ‘I became sick, I got tested’ and alerted all of his business colleagues that were at the same meeting, including this individual,” Harvey said.

Since then, city staff have been working with the 52-year-old to track his recent movements and identify any individuals that potentially may need to go into self-isolation.

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Harvey says the man’s family a spouse and a teenager who were in close contact with him – are in self-isolation and have been ever since he became symptomatic.

The city has not yet reached a level equivalent to influenza which typically moves past the containment stage in winter and freely communicates in the community according to Harvey.

“We’re not there yet. There are some communities that are, certainly, Washington state is there. We’re not.”

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On Wednesday, a 32-year-old oncologist with the Juravinski Cancer Centre (JCC) who was in self-isolation in Burlington tested positive for COVID-19.

The doctor was working at the JCC on the afternoon of March 9, where she saw 14 cancer patients and came into contact with two physicians, five health-care workers and a senior oncology resident.

Meanwhile, Harvey said an out-of-country patient that came in contact with the oncologist has been spoken to by public health.

“I’m not sure when they’re returning from their travels. Certainly, if they become symptomatic, wherever they are, they will seek assessment and testing and go from there.”

Since the first confirmed case was revealed, the city has activated its management response plan, which focuses on the continuity of operations, and will meet daily and as required, according to a release from the city.

Mayor Fred Eisenberger says the response will mean a “redeployment” of some city services to prevent the spreading of the virus, which would likely put some regular activities on hold.

“We can expect more incidents to happen,” said the mayor. “And the anticipation of other things falling off the shelf is probably going to happen because this will be a higher priority issue.”

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Concerned about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials say the risk is very low for Canadians, but they caution against travel to affected areas (a list can be found here). If you do travel to these places, they recommend you self-monitor to see whether you develop symptoms and if you do, to contact public health authorities.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing – very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. And if you get sick, stay at home.

Visit full COVID-19 coverage on Global News.

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