During a press conference on Monday, medical officer of health Dr. Rosana Salvaterra outlined Peterborough’s first confirmed case of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.
The health unit first announced the case on Sunday night of a man in his 30s who had recently travelled to Spain and Portugal and returned to Canada on Feb 24. He visited Peterborough Regional Health Centre on March 12 after showing flu-like symptoms around March 1. The man was assessed and is currently self-isolating at home, Salvaterra said.
“He was properly isolated, all proper precautions were taken, and there is no risk to either patients or staff at the hospital,” Salvaterra said.
“He has been discharged where he has been self-isolating at home, and he has been improving. While symptomatic, he worked for the most time at home, and we have a very detailed list of his activities and we will conduct any further investigation based on results of the testing now being done.”
Trent University president Dr. Leo Groarke confirmed late Sunday night the patient is associated with its Peterborough campus. No other details have been provided. The university announced Monday all of its buildings would be closed but essential services would remain. Classes would move to online.
Salvaterra said the health unit is investigating the man’s history, including 12 individuals who are considered “close contacts.” A close contact can include a wide range of circumstances, including being seated near the patient or having physical contact, Salvaterra noted. They are all being tested, she said.
Salvaterra noted that currently there are no other probable cases within the health unit’s jurisdiction, which includes the city of Peterborough, Peterborough County, Curve Lake First Nation and Hiawatha First Nation.
Symptoms of COVID-19 can range from mild to severe and include fever, cough and difficulty breathing (shortness of breath). Complications from COVID-19 can include serious conditions, like pneumonia or kidney failure, and, in some cases, death.
However, Salvaterra noted 80 per cent of people confirmed with COVID-19 usually only have mild symptoms.
The press conference also included Peterborough Mayor Diane Therrien, and via teleconference Julie Davis, Trent University’s vice-president, and Hiawatha First Nation Nation Chief Laurie Carr.
Therrien said the city is working closely with the health unit, along with provincial and federal governments on the next steps.
“For example there’s a scheduled council meeting next week – so what will that look like? Are we going to be closing City Hall? How can we make sure that folks can access those essential services?”
Salvaterra said the health unit will provide updates on the COVID-19 pandemic for its jurisdiction daily at 11 a.m.
The health unit says to use Ontario’s online self-assessment tool to determine if you need to seek further care.
Peterborough County council will hold its regular meeting Wednesday but with an abbreviated agenda restricted to the approval of essential items only.
Confused about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Health officials say the risk is low for Canadians but warn this could change quickly. They caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are asked to self-isolate for 14 days in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others.
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. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. And if you get sick, stay at home.
For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.