19 COVID-19 cases in Hamilton as Brant County announces its 1st
Individuals on Westjet flights WS3464 and WS371 are considered exposed to COVID-19
The first lab-confirmed case of COVID-19 in Brant County is a woman in her 40s who travelled to Mexico and works at the Woodstock General Hospital.
Public health officials also confirmed four new cases in Hamilton Wednesday. While Hamilton officials say people remain unlikely to catch the virus in Hamilton, the city warns on its website that an "increasing number of travel-related cases from the USA are emerging," locally.
Meanwhile, the Halton Region says it has 10 confirmed cases and officials there warned passengers on recent flights between Ottawa and Toronto that they're considered exposed to the new coronavirus.
Officials with the Brant County Health Unit say the woman flew into Hamilton's John C. Munro Airport on March 8 after a trip to the Mayan Riviera.
The woman worked at the Woodstock hospital between March 9 and 11 before developing symptoms and going into self-isolation.
Officials note that the nature of the woman's job means she has "limited patient contact."
Dr. Elizabeth Urbantke, acting medical officer of health for the county, said both the hospital and Southwestern Public Health are following up with staff and patients who may have been in contact with the woman.
The doctor would not provide more information about the woman or her role, citing privacy concerns.
Testing was carried out after the woman contacted the health unit on March 14 and staff took all precautions to protect themselves and patients, says the health unit.
That test came back positive on March 17. Urbantke said at this point the woman has a cough and a fever and is in isolation at home.
A statement on the health unit website dated March 16 says that over the weekend officials were alerted of 25 probable cases of COVID-19 — meaning they had not been confirmed by lab testing.
On Wednesday, officials said they're still waiting on the results of 18 of those tests, though Urbantke said as far as she knows none of them are linked to the county's first confirmed case. Six tests have come back negative so far, along with the one that came back positive.
"I want to call on the residents to please be calm and to also take this health emergency very seriously," said Mayor David Bailey in a video posted to the county's website.
He adds, social distancing will save lives.
"We need you to take action now and take action together to reduce opportunities for transmission."
The county also said Wednesday that all playgrounds have been closed to combat the spread of the virus.
There are 10 cases of COVID-19 listed on Halton Region's website as of 4:40 p.m. Wednesday. All are linked to travel except for one, which is classified as "unknown."
The provincial update listed four new, confirmed cases in the Halton, including a woman in her 50s who travelled to the Caribbean, as well as another woman in her 50s who travelled to both the U.S. and Caribbean.
There's also a Halton man in his 40s for whom the source of transmission still isn't clear.
The fourth person on the province's list is described as a woman in her 50s whose source of transmission is listed by the province as both travel to the U.S. and close contact.
Some of those details match up with a media release from the region that says an Oakville woman who returned from Los Angeles on March 8 aboard Air Canada flight AC790 is the region's fifth confirmed case of COVID-19.
That woman was tested at Joseph Brant Hospital on March 14 and is in self-isolation at home.
The health unit also says a Burlington woman in her 20s who flew back from Los Angeles to Toronto on March 2 is awaiting confirmation of a test for COVID-19, after she started experiencing symptoms on March 8.
"It has been determined that the case was symptomatic during a recent trip to Ottawa on the following flights: Toronto to Ottawa on March 9 (Flight WS3464; WestJet) and then Ottawa to Toronto on March 11 (Flight WS371; WestJet)," reads a statement from the health unit.
"Individuals who have travelled on these flights are considered exposed to a case of COVID-19."
Anyone who travelled on those flights is directed to self-isolate if they develop symptoms in within 14 days of their travel.
"While we continue to see more cases, I want to reassure residents that most individuals who do contract COVID-19 with mild symptoms will recover on their own," said Dr. Hamidah Meghani, the region's medical officer of health.
"We are starting to see cases emerge where there is no direct link to a confirmed case and thus indicate community transmission."
Hamilton public health says the city has 19 confirmed cases as of noon Wednesday.
That means the city has added four new cases since Tuesday. Details of two of those cases were included in the provincial update, which provided information on Ontario cases as of 10:30 a.m.
A Hamilton woman in her 30s tested positive after travelling to the Caribbean as did a man in his 70s after he travelled to Mexico.
Both are now in self-isolation.