First Case of COVID-19 Reported in Waterloo Region

Waterloo Region Public Health has announced that they have their first local case of Novel Coronavirus, or COVID-19. A woman in her 50s went to Grand River Hospital with symptoms Tuesday after returning from a trip to Italy, which makes her and a Toronto man the latest of three dozen patients in Canada to be diagnosed with the highly contagious virus.

According to authorities with Waterloo Region Public Health, the Kitchener woman returned from Portugal with “mild symptoms” on Tuesday. She flew Flight 827 on Air Portugal from Milan to Lisbon, and then boarded Flight 259 on Air Portugal from Lisbon to Pearson Airport. The woman then took private transportation from Pearson to Grand River Hospital where, “Hospital staff took all necessary precautions to ensure the safety of staff and other patients.”

The woman is now self-isolating at her home, and Public Health is monitoring the situation. All cases of Coronavirus in Ontario have been linked to people traveling abroad to areas in the world where the exposure rate is high. As of yet, there has been no “community spread” of the virus.

In addition to the Kitchener case, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams has announced another new case in Toronto. A man in his 60s who returned from Iran last Saturday went to Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre on Tuesday with Coronavirus symptoms, but he was discharged the same day and he is also self-isolating at home.

While healthcare authorities are asking everyone to be vigilant and take precautions like washing your hands, covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze, and staying home when you’re sick, they’re also reminding people that the risk of infection is still relatively low. People who have recently traveled to affected areas like China, South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Iran and Northern Italy should be especially vigilant.

Commonly occurring symptoms of COVID-19 include a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. For 80 per cent of people, COVID-19 presents like the common cold, and systems are relatively mild. Older people seem particularly susceptible to the virus, and can suffer worse symptoms like organ failure. But the virus is highly contagious, so even though symptoms are mild for most people, you can still pass it to someone more susceptible to the worse symptoms.

The number of COVID-19 cases in Ontario now is up to 22 according to the Government of Ontario, although they note that four of the cases have been resolved. The Government of Canada’s website lists 13 additional cases in British Columbia, and one in Quebec.

Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health has created a hotline to get your COVID-19 questions answered. You can call 1-800-265-7293 extension 7006 from Monday to Friday, 9 am to 4 pm. You can also access their website here for updates.

This week’s episode of the Guelph Politicast does a deep dive on COVID-19 with Doctor Nicola Mercer, the Medical Officer of Health for Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health, and Doctor Amy Greer, the Canada Research Chair in Population Disease Modeling and Associate Professor in the Department of Population Medicine, Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph.

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