Coronavirus in Toronto – Should We be Worried?

Infectious Diseases

Here’s what you should know about Coronavirus


Updated Tuesday Jan 31, 2020


Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause respiratory illnesses such as the common cold.

Most people get infected with coronaviruses at one point in their lives, but symptoms are typically mild.


This virus is now officially known as “Coronavirus 2019-nCoV” and coined “Novel Coronavirus”.


Novel Coronavirus symptoms

Usually, symptoms are like a common cold, though in some cases, the viruses can cause lower-respiratory tract illnesses such as pneumonia and bronchitis.

Coronaviruses are very common in animals worldwide, but only a handful of them are known to affect humans.

Rarely, coronaviruses can evolve and spread from animals to humans.


Past MERS and SARS outbreaks

This is what happened with the coronaviruses Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS) and severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS), both of which caused more severe symptoms.


This outbreak, the Novel Coronavirus

As of January 31, there are more than 9700 confirmed cases and over 200 deaths linked to the 2019 virus in China.

December 31, 2019 – The first cases of the new strain were reported in Wuhan, China.

Since then, the virus has spread to as many as sixteen (23) countries, including Japan, Thailand, Korea, Malaysia, Australia, Germany, France, United States, and Canada – with 132 cases (as of jan 31).

Friday, Jan 24, France reported the first cases in Europe with two cases. The United States confirmed it’s second case.

Saturday, Jan 25, Australia, Malaysia each reported four cases, Japan it’s third case, and Canada it’s first case.

Monday, Jan 27, Canada reports it’s second case.

Tuesday, Jan 28, the United States confirms it’s fifth case.

Wednesday, Jan 29, Canada announces it’s third case, a man in his 40’s who recently returned from China.

Thursday, Jan 30, The WHO (World Health Organization) declares this outbreak an international health emergency. Per the WHO, they are satisfied with containement within developed countries, but are convcerned with lack of resources and infrastructure in developing countries to effectuate a proper defence against the virus.

Friday, Jan 31, Ontario’s third (3rd) case was reported (Candada’s 4th) – a young woman who recently returned from Wuhan, and has since recovered from the disease.

Canada’s first cases

On January 25 Toronto’s Sunnybrook Hospital reported Canada’s first case. A man in his 50s, who recently travelled to Wuhan China has contracted the virus.

All four cases in Canada are with people who recently returned from Wuhan China.

Thankfully, Three of the four infected are now back home and recovering in self-isolation.


How does someone get Novel Coronavirus, or 2019-nCoV?

The CDC (Center For Disease Control) says that human coronaviruses are most commonly spread between an infected person and others via:

  •  the air (from viral particles from a cough or sneeze)
  •  close personal contact (touching or shaking hands)
  •  an object or surface with viral particles on it (then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands)
  •  and rarely from fecal contamination.


Symptoms of 2019-nCoV

Symptoms are similar to the typical flu – fever, cough, and difficulty breathing.


Is there any treatment for this virus?

Currently, there are no specific treatments for coronavirus infections and most people will recover on their own.

There is no vaccine for this new coronavirus 2019-nCoV but researchers at the U.S. National Institute of Health have confirmed they are developing one.

Typically, treatment involves:

  • rest and medication to relieve symptoms.
  • using a humidifier can help to relieve a sore throat and cough.
  • drinking lots of fluids can help.

As with all illnesses, if you are worried about your symptoms, you should see a healthcare provider.


Where does this Coronavirus come from?

It is thought that the new virus – now called 2019-nCoV, or Novel Coronavirus likely originated in snakes.

There’s a far more dangerous VIRUS and it’s in your backyard.

How do we prevent the spread of Coronavirus?

Chinese authorities have begun to quarantine the city of Wuhan, with a population of 11 million. The government has cut off public transportation to and from the city as of January 23, 2020.

Many airports are starting to do screenings to make sure incoming passengers aren’t infected.

As with all respiratory viruses, we can prevent the spread with careful hand hygiene, avoiding people that are sick and staying home when we are not feeling well.


There is some good news!

So far, almost all patients who have become sick are not young. Most are elderly or with chronic health conditions.

This can provide some comfort for you and your children, as the virus has affected older people for the most part.


As with all illnesses, if you are worried about your symptoms, you should see a healthcare provider.


Dr. Dina Kulik, MD, FRCPC, PEM

Written By: Dr. Dina Kulik, MD, FRCPC, PEM

Dina is a wife, mother of 4, and adrenaline junky. She loves to share children’s health information from her professional and personal experience. More About Dr Dina.

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