A second person in Toronto has tested positive for the coronavirus.
The wife of the man who was identified as Canada’s first confirmed case has also been infected, Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health David Williams said in a statement Monday. She has been in self-isolation since arriving in Canada’s most populous city with her husband last week.
“We are working alongside Toronto Public Health, who has been in regular contact with the individual during their self-isolation period,” said Dr. Williams. “The risk to Ontarians remains low.”
Officials will provide an update on the situation this morning at 11:30 a.m.
Over the weekend, Williams confirmed that the woman’s husband — a man in his 50s — had tested positive for the SARS-like illness.
The man, who had travelled from Wuhan, China via Guangzhou, arrived in Toronto on January 22 and went to Sunnybrook hospital the following day after feeling ill. The case was confirmed as a presumptive positive case. The patient is in stable condition, officials said Saturday.
Officials will be contacting flight passengers who were within 2 meters of the patient aboard the flight from Guangzhou to Toronto. Minister of Health Patty Hajdu spoke to reporters in a press briefing Sunday to reiterate the risk to Canadians still remains low.
“While the risk of an outbreak of novel coronavirus in Canada remains low, I encourage Canadians to tell your health-care professional if you’ve travelled to an affected area of China and develop flu-like symptoms,” Hajdu said from Ottawa.
Concern is rising about the speed with which the virus has spread beyond China. In Canada, its similarity to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) has both heightened fears and served as a reminder that the country is in a much better position to deal with a pandemic than it was 17 years ago.
Between 2002 and 2003, SARS killed almost 800 people worldwide, with Toronto reporting the highest number of deaths — 44 — outside Asia. At the time, Canada — and particularly Ontario, where most of the nation’s cases occurred — were seen as poorly prepared.
“The degree to which we have learned from SARS is tremendous,” Dr. Andy Smith, chief executive officer of Sunnybrook Health Sciences told reporters at the briefing.
Beyond the health threat, there remain fears the virus could derail Canada’s fragile economic growth, mainly through its impact on the global economy. Markets have already been buffeted by the virus, which threatens supply chains and global growth.
On Jan. 23, the World Health Organisation stopped short of calling coronavirus a global health emergency, saying it remains a local crisis confined to China. However, with millions of people set to travel over the Chinese New Year, other nations are taking their own steps to slow the spread of the disease.
© 2020 Bloomberg L.P.