Sudbury

First case of COVID-19 confirmed in Sudbury

Sudbury has its first positive case of COVID-19. Public Health Sudbury and Districts confirms that a man in his 50s presented himself to the emergency department at Health Sciences North on Saturday. The health unit says all the proper precautions were taken and procedure standards followed, including infection control, testing and assessment.

Classes at Laurentian University cancelled, but courses to be moved online

Public health official says attendance at Toronto mining conference a potential risk of coronavirus exposure. 6:24

Sudbury has its first positive case of COVID-19.

Public Health Sudbury and Districts confirms that a man in his 50s presented himself to the emergency department at Health Sciences North on Saturday.

The health unit says all the proper precautions were taken and procedure standards followed, including infection control, testing and assessment.

The man is now in self-isolation at home.  

The Willet Green Miller Centre, the man's workplace, has been closed, and employees at the facility asked to stay home as the investigation continues.

A sign posted at Public Health Sudbury and Districts cautions visitors to take precautions against the spread of viruses. (Markus Schwabe/CBC)

During the investigation, Public Health Sudbury & Districts discovered the man had attended the Prospectors, Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) conference on March 2 and 3 in Toronto. The event attracts thousands of delegates every year.

He then went to work at the centre on Thursday and Friday before presenting himself to the ER showing symptoms of fever and a cough. 

"Having a confirmed case in our area is not unexpected given the transmission of this virus around the world," medical officer of health Dr Penny Sutcliffe said.

Sudbury's first case of COVID-19 has prompted the managers of the Willet Green Miller Centre to close down. Reports from the Sudbury health unit say that a man who attended the PDAC conference in Toronto works in the centre. (Mathieu Gregoire/Radio-Canada)

"Although this is concerning, as a community and as a health system, we have been preparing for COVID-19. Our focus is on breaking the chain of transmission to limit the spread of infection and as a precautionary measure, we are asking those who attended PDAC 2020 to monitor for symptoms for 14 days."

The health unit says at this time the virus is not circulating locally. The health unit is now investigating the number of people the man may have had contact with, and alerting them to potential exposure.

Sutcliffe said that the man has only "a very few contacts."

"I would just want to reiterate that we are still very much in containment mode in this province and certainly in our area," Sutcliffe said. "So it's very important is that we identify cases so that we can then take appropriate public health actions like isolation, and then [make] further decisions about the contacts to contain and to limit the spread." 

"So this is not a situation where we're thinking of there's increased risk or community spread." 

The number of people from northern Ontario who attended PDAC isn't know, yet. 

Laurentian University cancels classes

Laurentian University cancelled classes on campus as of Wednesday at 12:00 p.m until further notice. The classes will be offered online starting Thursday. 

"The objective in all of this is to minimize the gatherings of large groups of people," said university president Robert Haché.

Laurentian University president Robert Haché speaks during a press conference Wednesday. (Sarah MacMillan/CBC)

While the patient is a provincial government employee, his workplace, the Willet Green Miller Centre, is located on Laurentian campus, and some university classes are also held there. 

"There would have been opportunities for our students, faculty and staff to interact with that individual, and then to interact with other members of the community. So I think we're using an abundance of caution," Haché said. 

Another concern, Haché said, is that around 100 people from the university, including 60 students, also attended the PDAC conference in Toronto. 

On-campus events are also cancelled until further notice, and the university has restricted public use of the recreation centre. Faculty and staff will continue to work on campus, Haché said, and student residences remain open. 

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