Statement from Dr. Eileen de Villa, Medical Officer of Health, Toronto Public Health on novel coronavirus

January 28, 2020

Yesterday, we were notified of Toronto’s second presumptive confirmed case of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV). The individual recently travelled to Wuhan and is a close contact of the first presumptive confirmed case of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV). We were not surprised to learn of this news as we have a very mobile population, with a lot of travel back and forth between Canada and China. I have been receiving many inquiries on this topic and I am therefore providing this update.

While we only learned the news of our first presumptive confirmed cases late during the weekend, staff have been working around the clock to immediately act on this information and reach out to close contacts. We have been doing this to inform these people that they may have been exposed to a potential health risk, and so that they know what signs and symptoms they should look out for, and when and what type of medical treatment they need to seek if that becomes necessary. We also do this to connect with people so they can ask questions. This is part of our routine work in public health to protect the health of our residents.

I’m pleased to share that this process is well-underway and we have reached out and heard back from the vast majority of these individuals. This is very positive news given the short timeline and it demonstrates that the system is working well. I also want to take this opportunity to thank the media for helping us to get these important messages out to the public in such a timely manner.

In addition, we have also established a hotline for people who travelled on China Southern Airlines flight CZ311, arriving in Toronto on January 22 from Guangzhou. People who were on this flight may call Toronto Public Health at 416-338-7600, Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. with any questions you may have. This information line will also provide the public with a place for our residents to ask questions.

At this time, the risk to our community remains low. I want to remind residents that the best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus with prevention measures including wash your hands frequently, covering your cough or sneeze and staying home if you are ill. I also understand that members of the public may have questions and once again, I encourage you to visit credible, evidence-based sources to get the facts. We are updating our website regularly as new information is available to help keep you informed. For more information, please visit Toronto.ca/coronavirus.