6 more positive cases of COVID-19 discovered in Ontario

The Ministry of Health said Friday that six more cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Ontario, bringing the total in the province to 28. Four of the 28 have recovered, officials say.

The ministry said the new cases include three men — one in his 20s, another in his 40s and the third in his 50s — a couple in their 60s and a 64-year-old woman. 

Here’s what’s happened today:

Dr. David Williams, the chief medical officer of health, said a man in his 20s returned to Canada from Italy on March 3, and presented himself to Mount Sinai Hospital’s emergency department in Toronto. 

Williams said the patient was discharged the same day. He’s now at home in self-isolation.

A 64 year-old Richmond Hill woman who arrived from Iran on March 2 is also among the positive cases, according to York Region’s medical officer of health, Dr. Karim Kurji. The woman is now in self-isolation. In total, York Region has seven positive cases, with four connected to travel to Iran and three connected to travel to Egypt. 

The ministry says the man in his 40s recently returned from Las Vegas.

Coun. Joe Cressy, chair of the Toronto Board of Health, says the city has a preparedness plan in place in response to the spread of COVID-19. (Rozenn Nicolle/Radio-Canada)

Dr. Eileen de Villa, chief medical officer of health for Toronto, told reporters at a news conference Friday morning that the man took public transit between March 2 and March 4. 

She said the man took transit from Bathurst TTC station westbound to Islington TTC station around 8:50 a.m. on all three of those days. He also travelled from the Islington TTC station to his workplace using the 108 N MiWay express bus each day.

When travelling home, the man travelled from his workplace to Yorkdale TTC station using the 27 Milton GO bus. That travel occurred at 6:10 p.m on those days. Then he travelled from Yorkdale TTC station to St. George TTC station around 6:40 p.m. The final part of his trip home involved transit from St. George TTC station to Bathurst TTC station around 6:45 p.m. 

On March 4, the man also travelled from Bathurst TTC station to the 511 Bathurst streetcar. He is now at home in self-isolation, officials say.

Dr. de Villa said the times are estimates, and officials will provide more details as they become available. 

“I want to remind people that with respect to public transit, this information is being provided out of an abundance of caution,” Dr. de Villa said, adding those trips are considered “low risk” for other travellers.

Two of the other new cases stem from a couple in their 60s who were aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship that travelled to Mexico last month, before they returned to Canada on Feb. 28. Both people were assessed at Trillium Health Partners-Mississauga Hospital and are both now recovering at home in self-isolation, officials say.

Peel Public Health is asking passengers who were on the couple’s flight on West Jet flight 1199 on Feb. 28 and in rows 18 to 22 to self-isolate.

The other confirmed case is a man in his 50s who returned from Iran on Feb. 27 and was assessed at North York General on March 3. He is also at home in self-isloation.

Board of Health Chair Coun. Joe Cressy says plans are in place in case of increased local transmission of the virus. 

“Readiness systems are in place for each and every scenario,” he said.

The Royal Bank of Canada is also investigating a possible case of COVID-19 at a location in Meadowvale, Mississauga, according to a memo sent out by the company to their Toronto employees today. That employee is now in self-isolation, the bank says.

The institution is advising any employees who may have had contact with the individual to “self-quarantine until advised otherwise.”

The company says it is working with Ontario Public Health to determine its next steps.

Stand-alone testing centres coming to some Ontario hospitals

Some Ontario hospitals are preparing to create stand-alone testing centres for coronavirus if COVID-19 begins spreading widely within the province, CBC Toronto has learned.

According to two health sector sources familiar with the plans, Toronto-area hospitals would establish separate assessment centres in facilities such as portables. The sources confirmed that the Michael Garron Hospital is one of the facilities applying to create a stand-alone assessment centre.

The move would reduce the risk that patients with COVID-19 spread the coronavirus to uninfected people in hospital emergency rooms.

“We are working with certain hospitals and have requested that they submit applications,” said a Ministry of Health official in an email.

This illustration provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). (THE CANADIAN PRESS)

“This is in preparation in the event of community spread to endure our continued ability to effectively test and respond.” 

The official could not say how many Ontario hospitals will create the assessment centres, but said they will be located “where we expect there to be significant testing in the event of community spread. This would likely include centres outside of Toronto.”

So far the vast majority of COVID-19 cases in Ontario have been contracted during travel to affected areas, such as China and Iran, and public health officials continue to describe the risk in the province as low. 

The Ministry of Health said more details about the most recently diagnosed patient would be provided later on Friday.

Toronto Public Health is also scheduled to provide an update Friday on the city’s response.

Major tech conference moves online

Also on Friday, the Collision tech conference, which was expected to bring thousands to the city this summer, was moved online.

“Given the uncertainty facing a large number of public events around the world due to the progression of COVID-19, we have made the very difficult decision to postpone Collision from taking place physically until June 2021,” the organization said on its website.

Toronto officials said the conference was a key part of driving the city’s busiest tourism year ever in 2019. This year, expectations are already being tamped down with the spread of COVID-19 leading people to re-consider their travel plans.

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