A man wears a masks as a precaution due to the coronavirus outbreak as people arrive from the International terminal at Toronto Pearson International Airport in Toronto on Saturday, January 25, 2020. Canadian health officials announced a first presumed case in Ontario after the illness has sickened more than 1,200 people and killed at least 41 in China, the epicentre of the outbreak. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Officials reaching out to those in contact with Canada’s first coronavirus patient

The illness has sickened at least 1,975 people and killed 56 in China

Officials in Toronto are interviewing all those who had contact with the man diagnosed with Canada’s first case of the new coronavirus to ensure none of them were infected.

Authorities announced yesterday that they had detected the respiratory illness in a man who recently travelled to Toronto from Wuhan, China, the epicentre of the virus.

He’s being quarantined at Sunnybrook Hospital, and his family members are in “self isolation” as a precaution to keep the disease from spreading.

The illness has sickened at least 1,975 people and killed 56 in China, but it remains to be seen whether it’s as dangerous as the common flu, which kills 3,500 people every year in Canada alone.

Health Minister Patty Hajdu and Dr. Theresa Tam, chief public health officer, are set to hold a news conference this morning to provide an update on the situation.

Meanwhile, Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, believes the risk of contracting the virus in the province remains low.

He said the strategy of educating the public — championed by the federal government — appears to have worked, at least in the case of the first patient.

“The individual, knowing his responsibility, when feeling unwell, even without having really severe symptoms, was concerned enough and informed prompt enough,” Williams told a news conference on Saturday evening. “That just tells you that people have knowledge of it, they want to take proper precautions to protect their health and protect their family members and others.”

READ MORE: Here’s what Canada is doing to stop the coronavirus from getting in

Tam told reporters on Thursday that rather than screening every single passenger coming to Canada from China, the federal government was instead providing travellers with information about what to do should they start to feel sick.

The new virus comes from a large family of coronaviruses, some causing nothing worse than a common cold.

But in late 2002, a coronavirus called severe acute respiratory syndrome erupted in southern China, causing a severe pneumonia that rapidly spread to other countries. SARS infected more than 8,000 people and killed nearly 800, including 44 Canadians. Toronto was hard hit in that outbreak.

A decade later, another coronavirus dubbed Middle East respiratory syndrome began sickening people in Saudi Arabia. MERS is still prevalent, causing small numbers of infections each year. The World Health Organization has counted nearly 2,500 cases in the Middle East and beyond, and more than 850 deaths.

READ MORE: Risk of coronavirus low in B.C. as first case emerges in Toronto, officials say

SARS and MERS came from animals, and this newest virus may have as well. The first people infected visited or worked at a seafood market in the Chinese city of Wuhan, which has been placed under quarantine since the outbreak.

Canadian authorities have said such a quarantine won’t happen here, even if there is an outbreak.

The federal government has beefed up measures at major airports in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal, asking travellers whether they had been to Wuhan in the past 14 days, with a positive response triggering further investigation.

Everyone is also being urged to practice good hygiene that helps prevent the transmission of all viruses — washing hands thoroughly, covering coughs and sneezes, and staying home if you’re sick.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

The Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Construction begins on Highway 91/17 improvements in Delta

Project includes new interchanges at Highway 17/Highway 91 Connector and at River Road/Highway 17

North Delta’s Brandon Bassi honoured in throne speech

Former NDSS Huskies captain died following a car crash in Surrey on May 18, 2019

Trade sends Surrey NHLer Brenden Dillon to Washington

‘We felt it was important for us to add a player of his caliber to our defensive group,’ says Caps GM

GoFundMe started for former White Rock man who suffered hemorrhage in Dubai

Family friend suspects hospital bill to be in the hundreds of thousands

Despite evacuation, coronavirus-quarantined White Rock couple still two weeks from home

Government chartered plane to help cruising Canadians return from Japan

VIDEO: 7 things you need to know about the 2020 B.C. budget

Surplus of $227 million with big spending on infrastructure and capital projects

Higher costs should kill Trans Mountain pipeline, federal opposition says

Most recent total was $12.6 billion, much higher than a previous $7.4-billion estimate

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs say they’ll meet with ministers if RCMP get out

Federal minister in charge of Indigenous relations has proposed a meeting to diffuse blockades

Trees Cannabis director fined $1.5M for selling marijuana

Fine follows provincial crackdown on popular dispensary

World Cup skier from Okanagan dies suddenly at 19

Kuroda, who made his World Cup debut earlier this year, passed away suddenly Monday night.

Coastal GasLink pipeline investor committed to closing deal despite protests

Developer TC Energy Corp. — formerly TransCanada Corp. — is to remain the operator of the $6.6-billion pipeline

New highway proposed between Alberta and B.C.

The route would connect Red Deer to Kamloops

What’s in a name? The story of Revelstoke’s Mt. Begbie

It’s likely the iconic peak had several Indigenous peoples’ names before settlers arrived

Budget 2020: B.C. Liberals blast ‘Netflix tax,’ lack of economic plan

ICBC rates still go up, except in election year, Shirley Bond says

Most Read