Sunnybrook Hospital is shown in Toronto on Sunday Jan. 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Doug Ives

VIDEO: Canada’s first presumptive case of coronavirus officially confirmed

Both patient and wife arrived on a China Southern Airlines flight after having been to Wuhan

Canada’s first presumptive case of the novel coronavirus has been officially confirmed, Ontario health officials said Monday as they announced the patient’s wife has also contracted the illness.

Dr. Barbara Yaffe, the province’s associate chief medical officer of health, said the confirmation came through earlier in the day following tests at the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg. A Toronto man in his mid-50s had initially tested positive at a provincial facility days after returning to Toronto from Wuhan — the virus’s epicentre in China — via Guangzhou.

Yaffe said the testing process is now being repeated for the man’s wife, believed to be the second coronavirus patient in the country.

“Her test is positive at the Ontario Public Health laboratories, and specimens are being sent to the national lab for final confirmation.”

Yaffe said the man remains at Toronto’s Sunnybrook Hospital receiving treatment, while his wife is in “self-isolation” at home.

She said several other prospective patients have been tested in recent days, with coronavirus being eliminated in at least 15 cases. Results are still pending for 19 others, she added, noting the couple was not accompanied by anyone else on their flight home last Wednesday.

Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. David Williams, said the patients currently being tested reside throughout the province, though many are concentrated in Toronto.

Mayor John Tory said he’s requested that all public health information related to coronavirus be translated into “languages other than English or French” to ensure the city’s diverse population can stay informed.

Echoing public health officials who stress the risk of contracting coronavirus remains low, Tory urged residents to maintain business as usual.

“Be careful, be vigilant, but you don’t have to change your life at the moment,” he said.

Federal officials said on Sunday that they were reaching out to passengers who travelled on the same China Southern Airlines flight with the couple and sat within two metres of them.

Williams said that those who are not currently exhibiting the flu-like symptoms consistent with coronavirus are likely not contagious.

“If somebody does not have symptoms, they usually are not shedding,” he said, adding researchers are continually studying the virus and becoming more familiar with its characteristics.

The new form of coronavirus, a close cousin to respiratory illnesses such as SARS and MERS, originated in China and has spread rapidly in recent weeks.

Officials in that country have reported the illness has killed at least 81 people and infected more than 2,700 others. Several countries throughout Asia, Europe and North America have also confirmed cases of the illness. It remains to be seen whether the virus is as dangerous as the common flu, which kills thousands every year in Canada alone.

Yaffe said all cases outside of China so far include a travel history to that country, adding that Ontario emergency dispatchers have now been instructed to ask about that issue while screening calls from those showing signs of a respiratory illness.

Health officials have stressed that while human-to-human transmission of the virus does take place, it’s most likely in cases involving close, prolonged contact with someone who is already infected.

As of last week, the World Health Organization has not designated the outbreak as an international public health emergency.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some of which cause the common cold. Others have evolved into more severe illnesses, such as SARS and MERS, although so far the new virus does not appear to be nearly as deadly or contagious.

READ MORE: ‘Presumptive case’ of coronavirus in Canada confirmed by Ontario doctors

READ MORE: No travel ban, temperature checks for Wuhan travellers as coronavirus spreads to Canada

The Canadian Press

Coronavirus

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

Just Posted

Harrison businesses sign ‘Mask Pledge’

The initiative is designed to combat COVID, encourage visitors

UPDATE: Traffic moving again after rollover on Highway 1 in Chilliwack

This is the second collision in four days in the same area of the highway in the ess curves

LETTERS: A cordial traffic stop in Agassiz

Mary Weiss of Summerland recounts her experience with local police

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 27 to Oct. 3

World Farm Animals Day, Drink Beer Day and Virus Appreciation Day are all coming up this week

PJHL delays start of season as teams struggle to secure facilities

The junior B hockey league was hoping to start Sept. 29 but is now targeting mid-October

B.C. records 98 more COVID-19 cases, most in Lower Mainland

One new senior home outbreak, Surrey Memorial outbreak over

VIDEO: COVID won’t dampen Lower Mainland woman’s Halloween spirit

Langley’s Tanya Reid posted video offering suggestions of how trick-or-treating might look for her

PHOTOS: 2nd calf in a month confirmed among Southern Resident killer whale pod

Center for Whale Research said they will eagerly await to observe the calf to evaluate its health

97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized from farm in Princeton

RCMP assisted as BC SPCA executed search warrant

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Father hopes journey to aviation-safety program inspires hope

Former South Surrey resident Greg Sewell hasn’t given up on quest to mandate older-plane retrofits

$250K reward offered as investigation continues into Sea to Sky Gondola vandalism

Police also asking for specific footage of Sea to Sky highway around time of incident

Most Read