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

No one hurt in Maple Bay Road fire

Fire under investigation

North Cowichan to police popular trails to ensure physical distancing

“You can expect delays accessing Mount Tzouhalem, or even to be turned away.”

Duncan’s Pat Kay copes with Olympic roller-coaster

‘Confusing time’ as Canada pulls out due to COVID-19, followed by IOC postponement

Editorial: It’s never too early to think about water conservation

The weir at Cowichan Lake resumed operations for 2020 on March 18.

Alistair MacGregor addresses federal response to COVID-19

Cowichan-Malahat-Langford MP spoke to constituents via Facebook on Wednesday

‘We don’t need this right now’: B.C. man breaks up road rage incident

Two men were throwing punches on Tillicum Road in Saanich on Vancouver Island

List of cancelled Cowichan Valley community events

An ongoing list of events that have been cancelled in the Cowichan Valley due to COVID-19

Ferry breaks down at Nanaimo’s Departure Bay, several sailings cancelled

B.C. Ferries vessel the Queen of Oak Bay held in dock in Nanaimo due to main engine issue

Independent investigation praises RCMP actions in Vancouver Island suicide attempt

Man hurt in incident that took place near Nanoose Bay in September of 2019

‘A matter of human decency’: Truckers’ union calls on gas stations, rest stops to fully re-open

Teamsters Canada wants feds, provinces to put pressure on facilities to re-open for transport workers

B.C. unveils $3.5M COVID-19 emergency fund for post-secondary students

Money will help students cover living expenses, food, travel, portable computers

‘We will get through this’: B.C. sees new COVID-19 death, but 57% have recovered

A total of 1,066 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus

Canada’s 75% wage subsidy is coming, but not for several weeks: finance minister

Subsidy will cost Canada $71 billion, but push down cost of emergency benefit, Morneau said

COVID-19: ‘The Ballad of Bonnie Henry’ recorded and released

LISTEN: Quick turnaround for song penned by B.C. Order of Canada musician Phil Dwyer

Most Read