Ontario health minister warns coronavirus poses a challenge for ‘all Ontarians’

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus outbreak: Ford says Ontario working hard to ‘flatten the curve’ of COVID-19 spread'
Coronavirus outbreak: Ford says Ontario working hard to ‘flatten the curve’ of COVID-19 spread
WATCH ABOVE: During a provincial COVID-19 update on Wednesday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said that Ontario is “working hard to flatten the curve” of the virus outbreak, stating the province will be setting up 25 dedicated COVID-19 assessment centres to assist hospitals, and will soon be able to conduct 5,000 virus tests per day, up from the current 2,000 test capacity. – Mar 18, 2020

Editor’s Note (March 19, 2020): In a press conference Wednesday afternoon, Health Minister Christine Elliott said there were instances of people in their 30s with coronavirus being on ventilators in Ontario. However, in an email later sent to Global News, the minister’s office said she was referring to other jurisdictions and not in Ontario. 

Ontario’s health minister says some people in their 30s with novel coronavirus are being placed on ventilators elsewhere in the world, adding the COVID-19 pandemic is a “very serious health situation for all Ontarians.”

Christine Elliott made the remarks during a press conference with Premier Doug Ford and Finance Minister Rod Phillips at Queen’s Park Wednesday afternoon.

READ MORE: 25 new coronavirus cases confirmed in Ontario, total active cases at 208

Elliott said while younger people more often seem to be carriers of the virus and do not often experience severe symptoms, there have recently been situations where “people in their 30s are now becoming very ill and are having to be placed on ventilators.”

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Elliott initially said Ontario was seeing instances of this, but in an email sent to Global News Wednesday afternoon, Hayley Chazan, a spokesperson for Elliott, said that isn’t the case.

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“Minister Elliott meant to indicate that there are individuals in their 30s on ventilators in other jurisdictions,” Chazan said.

“There have not been any cases to date of 30-year-olds on ventilators in the province.”

It is not clear if the individuals Elliott was referring to have underlying health conditions, though medical experts have said that older people and those with underlying conditions are most susceptible to developing severe symptoms of COVID-19.

Elliott encouraged social distancing and asked people to not gather in crowds.

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In that same press conference, Elliott said auto parts manufacturers in Ontario are looking to be outfitted with tools needed to create ventilators.

The province has ordered 300 additional ventilators, she said, adding that the current supply of the machines is sufficient for the time being.

Ontario reported 25 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, bringing the total number of active cases in the province to 208. Five cases are resolved, while a man in his 70s who had COVID-19 is deceased.

— With files from Jeff Semple

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