Three new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the Greater Toronto Area Monday, Ontario heath officials say, bringing the new provincial total to 18.
The three latest cases are all travel-related and involve a woman from York Region, a woman from North York and a man from North York, Dr. David Williams, the province's chief medical officer of health, told reporters at a news conference Monday afternoon.
Williams said that a woman in her 60s, who returned to Toronto from Egypt on Feb. 20 was seen at Mackenzie Health in Richmond Hill nine days later. She is currently in self-isolation, but doing well otherwise, he said.
The second new case involves a woman in her 70s, who also returned from Egypt on Feb. 20. She is a roommate of another person reported to have the illness in North York.
The third patient is a man in his 60s, who has a travel history to Iran, and is a close contact of another person reported to have the virus in North York.
Monday’s announcement comes after seven new cases were reported over the weekend, including two people from Ajax, one resident from Toronto, and four people from York Region.
All seven new cases were travel-related, health officials said. The patients had either recently travelled to Iran or Egypt, or are close family members of people who had visited those countries.
Williams said that due to the number of cases in Canada connected to travel to Iran, federal authorities are escalating the risk factor assessment for Iran to one similar to Hubei.
Iran has confirmed 1,501 cases of the virus and 66 deaths, but several media reports suggest that number may be larger.
Federal and provincial health officials are now planning to ask anyone coming to Canada from Iran to self-isolate for two weeks to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.
“We are not too certain and I don’t think [Iran] is too certain of the breadth and width of the spread within the country at this time, so we are asking those people coming back from there they would self-isolate,” Williams said.
“When the kiosk are updated in the airport, [they will be required] to fill out the questionnaire which has their contact information and local public health [officials] will locate them and work them over a 14 day period.”
Williams said that although four COVID-19 cases in Ontario involve travel to Egypt, he believes the circumstances might be a bit different there as there are only two publicly reported cases of the illness in Egypt.
He said the four people with COVID-19 in Ontario with travel history to Egypt may have been at the same event at the same time, but he was unable to any disclose details.
Williams reminded residents in Ontario that the virus is not yet spreading locally.
“It’s a low risk still with Ontario because of the ongoing vigilance an d the amount of resources and staff that we are putting into monitoring, surveying and following up,” he said.
Williams said that the number of tests for the virus being done has risen, and that more than 1,000 tests have been completed.
Of the total 18 cases in Ontario, three of the first ones have been resolved.
In China, nearly 80,000 people have been diagnosed and more than 2,800 have died.
-- With files from The Canadian Press