Toronto opens hotline for passengers on flight with Canada's first coronavirus patient

Toronto public health officials have set up a hotline for passengers on a recent flight from China who travelled alongside the man with Canada’s first confirmed case of coronavirus.

Ontario is now investigating 11 possible cases, down from 19

Passengers arrive at the international terminal at Toronto's Pearson International Airport. The man with Canada's first confirmed case of coronavirus landed at the airport on Jan. 22. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

Public health officials have set up a hotline for passengers who travelled alongside the man with Canada's first confirmed case of coronavirus on a flight from China to Toronto last week. 

The patient's wife is also presumed to be carrying the illness, though her case has not yet been confirmed by the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg. 

China Southern Airlines Flight CZ311 landed in Toronto from Guangzhou, China, on Jan. 22.

Health officials previously said they were reaching out to passengers who sat within two metres of the couple, but they are now offering assistance to all passengers on the flight through the hotline.

Passengers of that flight with questions or concerns are asked to call 416-338-7600.

Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto's Medical Officer of Health, said her staff has been working "around the clock" to identify anyone who may have come into contact with the couple since the man's case was first reported this past weekend.

"I'm pleased to share that this process is well underway, and we have reached out and heard back from the vast majority of these individuals," she said in a statement.

"This is very positive news given the short timeline, and it demonstrates that the system is working well."

The man with the confirmed case is in stable condition at Sunnybrook Hospital, while his wife is at home in self-isolation.

Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto's Medical Officer of Health, said the overall risk to the public remains low. (Michael Wilson/CBC)

Ontario clears 8 patients

Ontario health officials have also cleared more patients suspected of carrying the new strain of coronavirus, lowering the number of cases being investigated in the province from 19 to 11.

Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario's associate chief medical officer, said Monday that the "vast majority" of the 19 people tested were in hospital under "appropriate" isolation measures.

British Columbia identified Canada's third presumptive case on Tuesday.

Ontario said its "robust detection protocols" mean that most people being tested are unlikely to be carrying the coronavirus, which has symptoms similar to other respiratory infections.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses ranging from the common cold to severe diseases, such as SARS.

The new strain of coronavirus was identified by Chinese health officials on Dec. 31, 2019. It is believed to have originated from a food market in Wuhan, a city of more than 11 million people currently under quarantine.

At least 132 people have died due to the virus in China, alongside another 5,974 confirmed cases.


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