As more and more cases of the 2019 novel coronavirus are confirmed in Ontario, the number of people being “investigated” for the virus is rising fast — but not until today have we seen such a truly dramatic spike in the number of suspected patients.
Ministry of Health officials confirmed on Wednesday morning that five new confirmed cases of COVID-19 had been recorded within the province (including a Sudbury man who attended a convention in Toronto last week with some 25,000 other people.)
These latest cases bring the provincial total up to 41, with five of them already marked on the government’s dedicated COVID-19 web page as “resolved.”
A total of 36 people had been confirmed positive for the virus as of Ontario’s last official update on Tuesday night, with another 22 listed as “currently under investigation”
As of 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday morning the number of those under investigation had grown to 465 — a more than 2,000 per cent increase in less than 24 hours.
Scary as that may seem, it’s important to note that Canada just repatriated 228 citizens from the U.S. after they’d been stuck aboard a cruise ship off the coast of San Francisco for five days.
The Grand Princess cruise ship passengers were prevented from disembarking the vessel after it was learned that 21 of the total 3,500 people aboard had tested positive for COVID-19.
They have since been brought to the Canadian Forces base in Trenton, Ont., for a 14-day-long quarantine, which likely boosted the number of cases under investigation in the province by quite a bit.
It’s also important to note that “currently under investigation” means “test results are pending.” All of these tests could come back negative.
Each of the five newly-diagnosed cases involves foreign travel, save for the Sudbury man, whose the method of transmission for remains “pending.”
If it is found that man in his 50s did contract the virus at PDAC (Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada) 2020 in downtown Toronto last week, it would be Ontario’s first recorded community-spread case of COVID-19.
The other four newly-confirmed patients are a GTA woman in her 30s who recently travelled to Egypt, a Toronto man in his 30s who recently travelled to the U.S., an Ottawa man in his 40s who recently travelled to Austria and a Halton woman in her 30s who recently travelled to the U.S.
All confirmed patients are self-isolating on the advice of public health professionals, who maintain that the risk of contracting COVID-19 remains low in Canada.
“At this time, [The Public Health Agency of Canada] has assessed the public health risk associated with COVID-19 as low for the general population in Canada but this could change rapidly,” reads a notice on the federal government’s website.
“While a COVID-19 outbreak is not unexpected in Canada, our public health system is prepared to respond. PHAC, along with provincial, territorial and community partners, continues to reassess the public health risk, based on the best available evidence as the situation evolves.”