A Barrie man in his 40s is the first positive case of COVID-19 in the region and the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit is reminding people to be vigilant to avoid spreading the virus.
At a news conference Thursday afternoon at the health unit offices on Sperling Drive, just an hour after the announcement was made by public health officials, medical officer of health Dr. Charles Gardner provided more details about the case.
After a recent trip from Germany and Spain, the Barrie man became ill and checked into Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre (RVH) where he was tested on Monday, March 9. Tests results came back this morning and he is now self-isolating and recovering at home.
The Barrie hospital took all necessary infection and control measures for COVID-19, officials said.
Gardner said the health unit is investigating to determine where exactly the local man has been since his return from Europe and the doctor hopes to have those details out to the public as soon as possible.
“The possibility exists in the future for this to transmit readily in our community. We don't have evidence of that happening right now,” said Gardner. “We have had evidence of that happening potentially in the city of Toronto, with a case that was reported out of Sudbury.”
Despite it being the first in the region, Gardner said the health unit was prepared.
“Although this is our first case here, this has been anticipated because of the unfolding of this pandemic,” he said. “People should be aware of the potential for transmission and exercise practices to protect themselves.”
Many warnings have highlighted the need for maintaining proper hand-washing techniques and use of hand sanitizer, but Gardner said it may be time for people to think about other ways to suppress the coronavirus.
“I think, at this point, it would help for people to think about what we call social-distancing — being aware of people in their immediate personal space, keeping a distance of one to two metres from other individuals," he said. "Certainly be aware if others are ill, or coughing, and aware of those who are travelling and come home with symptoms.”
Symptoms of coronavirus that may appear two to 14 days after exposure are fever, cough and shortness of breath.
Sports leagues around North America and even some events in the local community have already been cancelled or postponed due to the virus.
However, Gardner told BarrieToday that residents should use their own discretion when going to places with large amounts of people.
“We would advise people to monitor the media and our messages for that information. It may very well come to that in the not-so-distant future,” said Gardner.
Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Ontario reached 59 as of Thursday afternoon, with the worldwide number being more than 133,00 and, of those global cases, 4,949 resulting in death.
Tests being done will require people to get swabs of their throat and back of the nose.
The protocol for anyone who tests positive is for them to remain in isolation until they've had two negative tests for the virus.