Officials trying to trace COVID-19 patient’s last nine days in Canada before diagnosis

TORONTO — A Toronto woman who tested positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) returned from Iran nine days before she reported to hospital, leaving health officials trying to quickly investigate who she came in contact with. 

On Feb. 24, a woman in her 60s presented herself to Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre’s emergency department with a travel history to Iran and symptoms consistent with COVID-19.

Officals said her symptoms included a cough, sore throat, body aches and occasional fever. After the woman was diagnosed, she was discharged home and went into self-isolation. 

Two members of the woman’s family are also in self-isolation at home while officials determine if the virus has spread. 

 “We are following up with this person and their close contacts,” Dr. Eileen de Villa said on Wednesday at a press conference. 

Officials said that after a complete investigation, they will reveal more information about where the woman went before becoming ill. 

“We will have details and communicate to the public once that assessment is done,” de Villa said.

This is the fifth presumptive positive case in the province. The only other active COVID-19 case is a woman in her 20s, who also remains in self-isolation at home.

Canada has confirmed 12 cases of the illness overall, which has infected more than 80,000 people and caused more than 2,700 deaths around the world.

Seven cases have been identified in British Columbia, including some linked to recent travel to Iran.

Officals also added that starting today, people returning to Canada from China, Iran, South Korea, Singapore, Italy, Hong Kong and Japan will be asked to self-monitor for symptoms. 

Anyone who becomes ill is being asked to contact health officials immediately. 

Public Health Ontario’s lab has so far tested 629 people for the virus since the outbreak began. 

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