First community-transmitted cases of COVID-19 confirmed in Toronto
Toronto Public Health officials are asking residents to take further action in the fight against COVID-19 amid a "significant increase" in the number of local cases amidst a global outbreak.
Dr. Eileen de Villa, Medical Officer of Health for the City of Toronto, announced during a press conference this afternoon that we are now starting to see cases emerge "which are unlinked and thus indicate community transmission."
While unable to comment on the specifics of these cases, de Villa told reporters at City Hall that she was aware of at least three patients who are believed to have contracted the virus independent of recent travel or close contact with someone who had recently travelled outside of Canada.
"Last week I made a number of recommendations on public health measures to protect our city," she said during the first of what will now be daily media briefings on the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto.
"At this time I am urging you to take further action... please note that I do not make these recommendations lightly."
In light of the fast uptick in cases of the deadly coronavirus, de Villa has formally asked all residents in the city to stay at home if possible.
"If you can stay home, do," she said. "If you are a business or an employee, help your staff to stay home. Limit group gatherings. if you need to seek medical attention call ahead... I cannot overemphasize how important this is, particularly at this critical time."
De Villa extolled the importance of social distancing in helping to minimize the outbreak and save the lives of vulnerable citizens.
"Increasing social distancing is a key component from preventing the kind of circumstances we're seeing in other jurisdictions," she noted, referring to places like China and Italy where the virus spread fast with disastrous public health consequences.
"Every interaction avoided helps to flatten the curve," she said. "If you can, stay home. Help out our city by reducing your interaction with others. Every little bit, every effort counts."
A total of 76 cases of the 2019 novel coronavirus had been confirmed in Toronto as of Monday morning, according to the city's dedicated web page. De Villa said during her press conference that four people are presently in hospital locally as the result of COVID-19 infections.
Ontario-wide, 177 cases have been reported as of Monday, five of them marked as "resolved." Canada's federal government is reporting 345 confirmed cases and four deaths as of Monday morning, while the World Health Organization says that 153,517 have been infected globally.
The WHO was reporting 5,735 deaths total as a result of the pandemic on Monday morning, 3,204 of them in China, where the outbreak originated in late December.