MONTREAL — Quebec has its first presumptive case of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus that originated in China, Quebec Health Minister Danielle McCann announced on Thursday.
A woman in the Montreal area, who had recently returned from Iran, likely has the disease. She went to a Montreal-area clinic on Monday where staff followed the proper protocols, the minister said at a late evening press conference. Quebec public health officials have tested her, and she is positive, but a national laboratory in Winnipeg will have to confirm the result.
But the case appears to be relatively mild. The woman who may have the disease has been allowed to go home, where she is in isolation. She likely has not worked, taken public transit and has had limited contact with people since her arrival from Iran, health officials said.
Officials followed all protocols in their contacts with the patient, the minister said. “There is no need to worry,” she added. “All measures are being taken to protect the population.”
Quebec health officials are currently tracking down anyone who may have come into contact with the woman. Her immediate family has already been placed in isolation, they said. The patient had recently flown back from Iran, via Doha, Qatar, health officials said.
If the laboratory confirms the case of coronavirus, it will be the 14th in Canada. Six cases have been confirmed in Ontario, seven in BC. Test results are expected by Sunday.
On Wednesday, the international spread of the virus to countries like Italy and Iran prompted Quebec to add five countries to a watch list for travellers and begin testing more people for the disease.
Officials are testing 21 people in Quebec who are under investigation as possible cases of COVID-19. Dozens of people have so far been tested for the disease, and all of them have come back negative — apart from Thursday’s case.
Health officials had warned that the disease’s spread to Quebec was inevitable, but that its overall risk to the population is low. Despite that, fear of the virus’s spread has caused citizens to hoard respiratory masks against the suggestions of authorities, worldwide travel cancellations and a massive drop in stock markets.
More than 80,000 people have contracted the disease globally; almost 3000 have died.
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