Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s public health chief, taking leave of absence for medical treatment on the Caribbean island of St. Kitts, has confirmed there is a serious health risk associated with the coronavirus.
“We are not out of the woods yet,” de Villa said on Wednesday of the outbreak. “There are signs of infection, and we need to be able to test our population and be able to identify and isolate people who have been exposed.”
By the evening of Friday, March 16, the total number of confirmed cases globally would have risen to 5,907 and the death toll from the coronavirus to 781 — an increase of 10 per cent and 33 per cent, respectively, in the past 24 hours, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
“It is very early days yet,” de Villa said. “It is very clear that the virus is spreading. It is likely we will see increases in the number of confirmed cases over the next two to three days, and it may be a matter of days if we have more people being diagnosed and getting the virus.”
Dr. Anne Schuchat, the American deputy’s coordinator of the U.S. Department of Health Resources, also said it was too early to tell how serious the threat is to Canada.
In Canada, about 200 people have been tested for COVID-19, and about 130 of them appear to be positive, Schuchat said. She noted that the number of people tested so far still amounts to a small fraction of the total population.
“We don’t have enough cases to actually understand the full scope of this outbreak,” Schuchat said by phone from Washington, D.C., where she is leading a response team at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In the United States, there are about 6,300 cases, including 1,084 people in hospital, and 13 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University data.
Dr. Bonnie Henry, Toronto’s medical officer of health, said the numbers of people testing positive could still change. For instance, the current day of March 13 did not