Three new coronavirus cases in Ontario, pushing provincewide total to 23

TORONTO — Officials in Ontario are reporting a new case of the novel coronavirus that they say is linked to a cruise ship that left San Francisco in early February.

Peel Public Health says the man in his 60s from Mississauga, Ont., was a passenger on the Grand Princess cruise ship and returned to Canada on Feb. 28.

He is now considered the 23rd case of COVID-19 in the province.

The agency says the man was assessed at a local hospital before being released into self-isolation.

News from Peel region came after Ontario's chief medical officer of health announced two other new cases of the virus on Thursday.

Dr. David Williams says those cases are a woman who returned to Kitchener, Ont., from Italy and a man who returned to Toronto from Iran.

Williams says everyone who has tested positive for the virus has been isolated.

"Overall, the containment continues well," Williams said. "The risk of transmission in Ontario is low."

The latest cases involve a woman in her 50s who went to Grand River Hospital's emergency department in Kitchener, Ont., on Tuesday after returning from Italy. She was sent home and remains in self-isolation with mild symptoms.

"It has been determined that she had mild symptoms on flights from Milan to Lisbon, and then Lisbon to Toronto," said Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang, the acting medical officer of health for the Region of Waterloo.

In the other case, authorities said the man in his 60s went to the emergency department at Toronto's Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre on Saturday. He was also sent home and remains in self-isolation, authorities said.

Williams said the province continues to increase its testing capacity and is developing guidance for groups holding large public gatherings to minimize risk.

He cautioned against fears that people should stock their homes with supplies in the event they are required to self-isolate, saying there is a "middle ground" to be found.

"Back in the time of SARS, we had well over 20,000 people that went into self-isolation," he said. "During that time, people did not run out of things in the household. Neighbours helped out because that is the Canadian way."

Williams said Ontario will not experience a situation like that which in occurred in Wuhan, China, where the entire area was locked down with little access to transportation or supplies for weeks on end.

"That would not be our approach here," he said. "If you're in isolation and there's something you need, let us know. We can help you out in that situation. You're not on your own."

Williams said Ontario's first four cases of the coronavirus have all been resolved, with those patients twice testing negative for the virus at least 24 hours apart.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2020.

Shawn Jeffords, The Canadian Press