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Second case of coronavirus in Toronto confirmed by federal health officials
Published Wednesday, January 29, 2020 9:40AM EST Last Updated Wednesday, January 29, 2020 1:52PM EST
TORONTO -- A federal lab has confirmed the earlier finding of a second case of the 2019 novel coronavirus in Toronto, while Ontario public health officials are investigating 23 other people for possible infection.
The woman in her mid-50s was aboard China Southern Airlines Flight CZ311 on Jan. 22, along with her husband, which landed at Toronto Pearson from Guangzhou.
Both she and her husband had spent time in Wuhan, Hubei Province, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak.
Her husband was taken to Sunnybrook Hospital on Jan. 23, where he remains in stable condition.
A sample from the woman tested positive at Ontario’s public health laboratory for the virus on Monday.
On Wednesday, the National Microbiology lab in Winnipeg confirmed Ontario’s finding.
Health officials previously said she was asymptomatic and staying in isolation at her own home.
The couple represent Canada’s two confirmed cases.
On Wednesday morning, the province confirmed they are watching and testing in their laboratory 23 other people for possible infection.
CTV News Ottawa has confirmed that one of those 23 patients is in Ottawa.
Doctors in Ontario have previously said they would isolate and investigate anyone who reported recent travel to the Wuhan area and the presence of respiratory illness or symptoms.
Officials have designated a third presumed positive case in a B.C. man in his 40s. His sample is being tested in Winnipeg.
On Wednesday morning, China’s count of cases hit 6,000, more than all those infected during the 2002-2003 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak.
Later on Wednesday, Toronto council and leaders from the city’s Chinese-Canadian community held a news conference urging the public not to stigmatize or associate the community with the virus.
Downtown councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam said stigmatizing Chinese-Canadians in the city could easily exceed the damage caused by the virus, which so far in Canada has only made two people mildly ill.
“There will probably be more harm brought by racism, xenophobia, discrimination, harassment and racial taunts directed at members of the Chinese community and others of Asian descent than we will be harmed by the coronavirus,” she told reporters. “That is an unfortunate consequence of what will happen unless we change course.”
The gathering was partially in response to a petition circulating in York Region, where thousands of parents demanded that any student who had been to China recently or had family who travelled there should be kept from school for 17 days.
Mount Sinai Hospital Dr. Allison McGeer, who fell ill and beat the SARS virus in 2003, said it’s important for the public to remember the virus does not see colour or nationality.
“The problem is a virus – it’s not human beings, it’s not countries, it’s not aircrafts, it’s a virus,” she said, urging people to trust Canada’s public health workers. “We need to be very clear that our response to it is proportional and sensible and I have to say on a person level, if I am going to trust someone in my life, there is no body I will trust more than our public health professionals.”