As the CDC tries to grapple with outbreaks of COVID-19 amid a shortage of testing kits and 15 deaths from the virus so far, cases thought to have been acquired in the U.S. are now cropping up in Canada.
Canada was one of the first countries outside of China to report cases of COVID-19, documenting its first case on January 25th in a man who had recently traveled to Wuhan. But so far, the country has not seen the kind of larger outbreaks that have affected thousands of people in countries like Italy, South Korea and Iran.
The most recent statistics from the government of Canada website as of yesterday (March 5th) says that the country has 45 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with reports that this has risen to 51 as of Friday.
But, this relatively low number of infections may be about to change as the country is increasingly reporting cases of COVID-19 thought to have been acquired in the U.S. On Thursday, the province of Ontario, home to Canada’s largest city Toronto and 39% of Canada’s entire population, reported four new cases, three in people who had recently travel to the U.S. and one in a person who had recently traveled to Iran.
Two of the new cases in Ontario were from people who had recently returned from a trip on the Grand Princess cruise ship, sailing out of San Francisco to Mexico and returning on 21st February. Two people who were on the same cruise have since died, with one of the passengers having confirmed COVID-19. Testing for the disease is underway on samples from the other deceased person.
The ship remains quarantined off the coast of California while tests on passengers and crew are evaluated. The Canadian government is offering assistance to those still on board the ship and attempting to track down the 260 Canadians who were on the same cruise as those now known to be infected.
The other case in Ontario was confirmed to be from a man who had recently traveled to Las Vegas for a conference and returned to Toronto on February 28th. He reportedly used the Toronto public transit system for several days before being diagnosed.
The western province of Alberta also reported its first presumptive case of COVID-19 in a person from Calgary who also recently returned from the same cruise on the Grand Princess. Elsewhere, the province of British Columbia, which borders Washington State, the epicenter of the worst U.S. outbreak so far, had tested over 1,000 people as of the end of February, with 21 confirmed cases.
One 80-year old woman from Washington State, who came across the border to visit family is currently in a critical condition in the Vancouver coastal health area and yesterday the province confirmed Canada’s first community-acquired case of the virus in someone who has no known travel history to affected areas or interactions with people known to have COVID-19.
Canada has yet to report a death from COVID-19.
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