On 31 December 2019, a cluster of pneumonia of unknown etiology was reported in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China. On January 9 2020, Chinese authorities reported that the cause of this viral pneumonia was identified as a new type of coronavirus. To date, a total of 581 confirmed cases and 17 deaths have been reported for novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) globally with one case in the United States of America. The majority of these cases exhibited mild illness but approximately 95 cases were severely ill.
There are ongoing investigations to learn more about 2019-nCoV. The initial source of 2019-nCoV still remains unknown. There is now evidence to suggest that the 2019-nCoV can spread from human-to-human. The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has assessed the public health risk associated with 2019-nCoV in Wuhan, China as low for Canada and for Canadian travellers. The Public Health Agency of Canada is actively monitoring the situation and prepared to rapidly identify and manage 2019-nCoV if it arrives in Canada, in collaboration with the World Health Organization and other international partners.
In order to strengthen monitoring of 2019-nCoV cases, the Ontario Ministry of Health has announced an update to the Health Protection and Promotion Act (HPPA) that adds “diseases caused by novel coronaviruses, including SARS AND MERS” to the list of Diseases of Public Health Significance under the designation of diseases regulation (O. Reg. 135/18) in Ontario. With the recent change in HPPA, all physicians, hospitals and laboratories must report any suspect or confirmed case of 2019-nCoV to local Medical Officers of Health to ensure appropriate case and contact management. As the situation is still evolving, please visit our website at www.wechu.org for the most up to date case definitions for 2019-nCoV.
In circumstances that meet the case definition, testing for 2019-nCoV requires prior approval by the Public Health Ontario (PHO) Laboratory before submission and ideally after a physician has seen the patient. Please contact the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit for appropriate case and contact management and infection prevention and control measures by calling 519-258-2146, ext. 1420. Up-to-date information regarding PHO testing guidelines and requirements can be found at: https://www.publichealthontario.ca/en/laboratory-services/test-information-index/wuhan-novel-coronavirus or accessed from our main webpage at www.wechu.org. PHO Laboratory's Customer Service Centre can be reached at 416-235-6556/1-877-604-4567 or the After-Hours Emergency Duty Officer at 416-605-3113.
As new information becomes available, I will continue to share it with you. Please visit our website for all updates regarding 2019-nCoV.
Dr. Wajid Ahmed, MBBS, MAS, MSc, FRCPC
Medical Officer of Health
For more information, visit:
- Government of Canada- 2019 Novel Coronavirus infection (Wuhan, China): Outbreak update:
- Ontario Ministry of Health- Newsroom Statement:
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention- 2019 Novel Coronavirus, Wuhan, China: