Chief Medical Officer of Health Memo- Novel Coronavirus in China

January 10, 2020

January 10, 2020

Dear Health System Partners,

I am writing to share information with you about the World Health Organization’s announcement (WHO’s) yesterday, of the identification of a new (or novel) coronavirus in China.

This new virus was identified as part of the investigation of a cluster of 59 people in Wuhan, China that presented with viral pneumonia of unknown origin over the past few weeks. These laboratory findings are preliminary, and more investigation is needed to understand the epidemiology of the virus. Persons under investigation (PUIs) associated with this cluster have also been in identified in neighbouring countries/ autonomous regions (Hong Kong, Thailand, South Korea) and these individuals had reported travel history to Wuhan.

Together with Public Health Ontario (PHO) and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), we have been monitoring this cluster closely since it emerged over the holidays. The identification of a novel coronavirus is a key step in understanding this outbreak. Other important features of the outbreak to date include that:

  • Cases have been identified in a discrete geographic region (Wuhan, China), and there are additional PUIs among returned travellers from Wuhan, China to other regions and countries (Hong Kong, Thailand, South Korea).
  • The initial reports link many cases to a seafood market in Wuhan, which has since been closed and cleaned.
  • No deaths have been associated with the cluster in Wuhan, and many patients have been discharged from hospital.
  • No significant human-to-human transmission has been documented.
  • No cases have been reported in health care workers.

Given what is known at the present, the risk of infection with the novel coronavirus to Ontario and to Ontarians is low.

Read the full memo here.