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Public health confirms latest case of COVID-19 in Toronto

Last Updated Feb 24, 2020 at 12:03 pm MDT

This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, yellow, emerging from the surface of cells, blue/pink, cultured in the lab. (NIAID-RML via AP)

Public Health Ontario says the most recent case of COVID-19 (coronavirus) has now been confirmed positive by the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg.

Officials said the woman had been in China since the end of last year and had traveled multiple places – including a stop in both Wuhan and Hubei province. She had picked up a cough during her travels but it appeared to be getting better by the time she headed back to Toronto.

“As this young woman in her 20s arrived, we know that she had had an intermittent cough and we know that that cough had been improving and resolving for a couple of weeks now,” Toronto’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr Eileen De Villa, explained.

“When she arrived in Toronto she was given instructions at the airport to contact Ontario’s Telehealth information line, which she did.”

After describing her travel and her improving symptoms, the woman was instructed to go to North York General Hospital’s emergency department where she was thoroughly assessed.

On Sunday, the Public Health Ontario Laboratory confirmed that she had tested presumptive positive for COVID-19. The sample was then sent to the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg for confirmation where it was confirmed on Monday.

Because of the woman’s health background and the fact that the symptoms were improving, the woman had been sent home from hospital and told to self-isolate. Her symptoms continue to be monitored by health officials.

The province says it’s unlikely she was infectious.

“Given the individual’s clinical assessment and history, there is a low risk that she was infectious,” the province’s health officials said in a statement. “The individual followed all protocols and wore a mask throughout her travels back to Toronto and, since landing, the woman has had very limited exposure to other individuals.”

The province says it is coordinating with local public health units to ensure that passengers in close proximity to the woman on the plane are contacted and monitored.

This mark’s the fourth case of coronavirus in Ontario. The three previous cases – a married couple from Toronto and a university student living in London – were all cleared last week by health officials following two negative tests at least 24 hours apart. All had recently travelled to the region of China at the centre of the global outbreak.