BY ALEX GREGORY AND SURJIT SINGH FLORA
Two weeks after the province’s chief medical officer declared that a confirmed case of the COVID-19 coronavirus was “resolved,” a new case has been confirmed as a presumptive case in Toronto, causing concerns over outbreak prevention measures. A woman in her 60s was admitted to the Emergency Department at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre on the evening of Monday, Feb. 24 after displaying symptoms of sickness, including sort throat, coughing, fever and body aches. The woman, who had a travel history in Iran, was later tested for COVID- 19 and discharged the same day before being told to selfisolate at home. Two members of this person’s family are also currently in self-isolation at home. The matter is being treated as a presumptive case of the virus, and a sample taken from the woman has been sent to Winnipeg for further testing.
Staff are currently following up with the person and their close contacts, said Toronto’s chief medical officer, Dr. Eileen de Villa. “We do this to monitor the person’s symptoms and to notify others that they may have been exposed to a potential health risk, said de Villa. “We do this to help people protect population health and to help prevent the spread of infectious diseases in our community.” As of Thursday evening, 12 cases of the virus were confirmed in Canada, with five having been confirmed in Ontario. The case reported by Toronto earlier this week is the first not to be connected to direct travel to China. In a statement, de Villa said that the City of Toronto is continuing to monitor the potential of local spread, and that they will “continue to carefully monitor this situation and encourage residents to stay informed.”
The fear and uncertainty over the coronavirus has caused impacts to local businesses in the region, with Chinese-owned restaurants and other industries experiencing significant drops in visitors due to fears over the outbreak. Earlier this week, Air Canada canceled all of its flights from Canada to China until Apr. 10 due to the coronavirus, following a similar cancellation of flights to Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver to Beijing last month. Federal health minister Patty Hajdu also took the step of issuing a statement advising residents that, despite the public risk of contracting the virus being low, to stockpile food and medicine in the event of an outbreak scenario or other emergency.
“It’s good to be prepared, because things can change quickly,” Hajdu said Wednesday. Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown, local councillors and community advocates were onhand last night in the city’s downtown core to reassure residents that Chinese – owned businesses will continue to be supported. “Brampton stands shoulder to shoulder with our Asian restaurants during this period of adversity,” Brown said Tuesday evening. Brown’s statement echoes similar remarks made by advocates in Mississauga last week regarding the impact ot Chinese – owned and operated businesses in the GTA. “We’re trying to encourage people to come out and support the businesses,” said MCBA president Winnie Fung. “The whole supply chain has been affected.”