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Durham’s medical officer cautions against coronavirus panic

By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express

While there have been two confirmed cases on coronavirus in Toronto, the Durham Region Health Department is cautioning residents against widespread manic.

The region’s medical officer of health Dr. Robert Kyle says while he doesn’t think anyone should panic, they should keep an eye out.

“I would have heightened interest in this,” says Kyle. “Of course there’s a whole lot of information that is making it’s way through the 24/7 news cycle, but this is largely currently centred in China.”

He explains it’s on the region’s radar, and they’ve already learned how to manage outbreaks such as this after dealing with the SARS outbreak in 2003, and various other diseases.

The coronavirus initially starts in animals, and gets transmitted to humans, it then mutates and person-to-person transmission can occur, according to Kyle. It causes a wide array of respiratory infections, ranging from the common cold to SARS.

“This novel coronavirus is related to more severe respiratory disease,” explains Kyle.

Kyle says the region’s health department is on the lookout for symptoms of severe disease, including fever, and/or a cough.
“If the disease is worsening, it could be a more severe cough, higher fever, difficulty breathing, that sort of thing,” says Kyle.

He adds the province is also looking for a link to the Hubei province in China, where the City of Wuhan saw the beginnings of the outbreak, and is now shut down in an attempt to contain the virus.

“That is either a direct flight to and return from Wuhan, China, or contact with somebody who has that history of travel and is symptomatic,” says Kyle.
Since then there have been two confirmed cases in Ontario, as well as one person investigated in Durham Region.

The first person confirmed to have coronavirus in Toronto was recently released from Sunnybrook Hospital.
Kyle was unable to disclose information regarding the Durham Region individual other than to say the symptoms were mild.

“It’s not escalating appreciably in Canada, and… in Ontario… there really has only been the two confirmed cases, but I imagine a number of persons are under investigation,” he explains.
If an individual is under investigation for the coronavirus, they have to be linked to China, have milder symptoms, and are awaiting results of testing.

Kyle explains the region is part of a coordinated public health system, so the Public Health Agency of Canada, and the chief public health officer set the rules they follow nationally.

“We get this information disseminated to us on a regular basis, and we in turn flip that out to the healthcare community through our communications channels,” says Kyle.

These channels include posts on the region’s website,, as well as on social media.

For residents who feel they may have contracted the virus, they should first consider if they have traveled to Wuhan, or Hubei, or if they have been in contact with somebody who is symptomatic within 14 days of the onset of their illness who traveled to Wuhan.

“If they haven’t they have nothing to worry about,” says Kyle. “If they have that link and if they have a fever and a cough, then they should seek medical attention, and they should contact their healthcare provider.”

Their healthcare provider will then run through a script over the phone and determine whether or not they need to be seen. For those who can’t access their healthcare provider, they should contact telehealth at 1-866-797-0000.

For more information about the virus, visit