UPDATE: MLHU confirmed Tuesday afternoon that one of the cases involves an LHSC employee.
Two new confirmed positive cases of the novel coronavirus have been reported in Middlesex-London.
They are among eight new confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in the area, bringing Ontario’s total to 180.
Ontario’s new cases were reported to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care by the Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU), according to the province.
One of the new cases involves an employee at the London courthouse. In a memo sent to staff and stakeholders, director of operations Samantha Poisson said the courthouse learned of the employee’s diagnosis shortly after 9 p.m. Monday.
“Before being tested, the individual was at work between March 9 and March 10 and has not since returned to the building,” said Poisson.
The courthouse was closed temporarily and is expected to reopen on Wednesday, Poisson said.
She added that the court is in ongoing discussions with local health officials to ensure it is following the best practices amid the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic.
Few details are known about the second case reported Tuesday. Local health officials are expected to provide more information later in the day.
The new cases come days after the Middlesex-London area had its second confirmed case. That patient is described as a woman in her 50s with her hospital listed as the London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC).
In a statement, the MLHU described the woman as a primary health-care worker “who has no history of recent travel to areas that have been significantly affected by the novel coronavirus.” The Strathroy Medical Clinic confirmed on Sunday that the patient is an employee there.
A statement from the LHSC said the woman presented with COVID-19 in Victoria Hospital’s emergency department on March 12 “and that same day was assessed, tested and released with follow-up by the MLHU.”
The woman’s symptoms are described as mild and the MLHU said she has been advised to self-isolate at home for the next 14 days.
Middlesex-London’s first case, reported in late January, involved a woman who travelled from Toronto to London after returning from Wuhan, China. Health officials said the woman was her 20s and Western University confirmed the patient was one of its students.
Nearly a month later, the province announced that the woman had been cleared of the illness.
On Tuesday, Premier Doug Ford declared a state of emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, calling it an unprecedented time in our history.
The province ordered the closure of all public libraries, all private schools, all licensed child-care centres, all bars and restaurants except to provide takeout food and delivery, all theatres, cinemas and concert venues, and all facilities providing indoor recreation programs.
Ford said grocery stores, convenience stores, pharmacies, manufacturing facilities, public transit, important public services, construction sites and office buildings will all continue to operate.
The premier said that at the advice of Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. David Williams, the closures are meant to avoid social gatherings of more than 50 people.
Questions 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.