2nd 'presumptive' coronavirus case reported in Ontario, 1st case confirmed

WATCH: Canadian health officials confirmed an Ontario man has contracted the coronavirus. His wife is also suspected of being ill, and is awaiting test results. As Heather Yourex-West reports, Ottawa says the threat to Canadians is low, but many questions remain about how this virus spreads.

Ontario health officials have announced a second “presumptive” case of the new coronavirus in the province, possibly marking the second case in Canada.

The patient is the wife of the man who was infected with the province’s first case, which was initially announced on Saturday, officials said.

Both patients recently travelled to Toronto from Wuhan, China, which is believed to be the epicentre of the outbreak.

“Since arriving in Toronto, this individual has been in self-isolation,” Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer, said during a press conference at Queen’s Park.

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Canada’s 1st ‘presumptive’ case of new coronavirus discovered in Toronto

She remains asymptomatic in isolation at home, officials said.

Meanwhile, Williams said the first “presumptive” case of the illness in Canada has since been confirmed through secondary lab testing.

“All necessary protocols are in place to actively monitor, detect and contain the spread of this virus,” Williams said.

“The second case also reminds us that not all people who contract Wuhan novel coronavirus experience severe symptoms. As of today, she has not been in need of the same acute hospital care required by her husband who also remains stable.”

Officials said the couple travelled together from Wuhan to Toronto with a connecting flight in Guangzhou, China.

They arrived in Toronto on Jan. 22, and one day later, the man infected with the first case had a family member call 911 because he was experiencing symptoms of the new coronavirus. He was then transported to Sunnybrook hospital by paramedics in protective gear.

“As of this morning, Ontario implemented enhanced screening measures at all emergency medical services’ communication centres to help identify potential cases of this Wuhan novel coronavirus before dispatching paramedics,” Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario’s associate chief medical officer of health, said at Monday’s press conference.

No other family members travelled with the couple, officials said.

19 others under investigation

Yaffe also said 19 people are currently under investigation “for whom results are pending.”

“They are all in isolation with appropriate precautions, which is standard practice now in hospitals for people with fever and respiratory symptoms,” Yaffe said.

“If I were to predict, probably they’ll all have something else.”

She said they have been able to rule out about “15 or 16” other cases.

For a person to be classified as being under investigation, Williams said they must show signs and symptoms of a respiratory illness as well as a travel history to Wuhan or the wider Hubei province in China.

Williams said the risk to the public in Ontario remains low despite the cases and added that the health-care system is more prepared now than it was during the SARS outbreak. However, the province may see additional cases.

“I would guess we’re going to see more cases reported (in) other parts of Ontario, perhaps,” Williams said.

Public health authorities, meanwhile, said there is a team of individuals aimed at contacting passengers they believe may have been at risk by being in close proximity to the couple on China Southern Airlines Flight CZ311, which transported the couple from Guangzhou to Toronto.

China is reporting 2,744 cases of the virus and 80 deaths, but it remains to be seen whether the virus is as dangerous as the common flu, which kills thousands every year in Canada alone.

– With files from the Canadian Press

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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