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Canada prepared to monitor for community spread of COVID-19

Quebec reports first presumptive case of coronavirus

February 28, 2020
by Laura Osman

OTTAWA (CP) — Canada’s top public-health official Dr. Theresa Tam says Canada has begun to look at tracking local spread of the novel coronavirus, just as the United States confirmed a case of the virus that does not appear linked with international travel.

The risk of contracting the disease in Canada is low, but for the second day in a row Thursday the number of new cases confirmed outside China was greater than the number of new cases within the country where the illness was first detected.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the World Health Organization’s director general, said the world is at a decisive point in its fight to contain the virus, which has now spread to 46 countries.

“In the past 24 hours, seven countries have reported cases for the first time,” Ghebreyesus said in a briefing, adding that “community-based transmission” — when the bug spreads within new areas, rather than being brought in by one person at a time from somewhere else — is being seen in more countries as well.

The U.S. confirmed one case of the new coronavirus, or COVID-19, in California Thursday that could not be linked to international travel, suggesting the person contracted the virus within the United States.

The woman, who was not identified, first sought medical care at a hospital in Vacaville, a city of more than 100,000 people about 95 kilometres from San Francisco.

She stayed there for three days but doctors did not test her for the virus because she did not meet federal testing criteria, NorthBay Healthcare Group president Aimee Brewer said in a statement. The patient was then transferred to a Sacramento hospital where she tested positive for the virus.

In a briefing Thursday, Tam said Canada has methods to monitor for possible spread of the virus within the country — systems typically used to monitor influenza — and if public-health agencies discover the spread of COVID-19 they will work quickly to try to contain it.

“I think that’s actually something that all countries should be moving toward as well,” she said.

In the meantime, while Canada is still trying to keep COVID-19 out of the country, the public health agency is taking stock of the need for personal protective equipment and other supplies to make sure there are enough to go around in case of a pandemic outbreak.

There are 13 confirmed cases of the virus in Canada, all in Ontario or B.C., and so far all have been linked to international travel or close contact with someone who has recently returned to the country.

Globally, there are 82,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 2,800 deaths.

With files from the Associated Press and Allison Jones in Toronto

Quebec reports first presumptive case of coronavirus, woman from Montreal area

MONTREAL (CP) — Quebec public health officials are reporting the province’s first presumptive case of the new coronavirus.Health Minister Danielle McCann announced Thursday night that the patient, a woman from the Montreal region, had returned from Iran on Monday.

Officials said the woman visited a clinic with minor symptoms. The tests for coronavirus were conducted the day after her return to Canada, with positive results coming back Thursday.

“While the person was being cared for, all precautionary measures were put in place,” McCann said. “She did not require hospitalization, so she is currently in isolation, alone, at her home.”

Health officials said that apart from visiting the clinic where she was diagnosed, the woman’s contacts in Montreal were essentially limited to her immediate family, who are also in isolation. The patient did not take public transit and was not in a workplace, McCann said.

She travelled to Montreal on a flight from Doha, Qatar. Quebec health officials said they are looking for people who came into close contact with her in Montreal. They will also take necessary steps to identify passengers who were close to her on the plane.

McCann said testing by the province’s public health lab came back positive for the new coronavirus, dubbed COVID-19, but the result needs to be confirmed by the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg.

Results are expected Sunday. If confirmed, it would be the 14th confirmed case of the virus in Canada, and the first outside Ontario and British Columbia.

The minister said the health network’s response to the case shows the coronavirus protocols put in place in the province are effective.

“Today, despite this first probable case, I especially want to remind the public that all measures are being employed currently in the network to detect, take control of and limit the transmission of COVID-19 in the community,” she said. “There is no reason to be worried.”

Copyright (c) 2020 The Canadian Press