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Keeping informed


BY SHELLEY CARROLL

Yesterday, all Toronto City Councillors were hauled into a board room for the first of what may become weekly COVID-19 briefings for ourselves and our staff. News is rolling in rapidly. Almost as soon as we sat down for the briefing, the World Health Organization declared a pandemic in the middle of Dr. de Villa's and Dr. Dubey’s presentation, rendering much of it obsolete — but they were prepared for that. Our public health officials learned a lot from SARS and H1N1, and have developed a streamlined protocol for this precise situation. Despite the virus being declared a pandemic, the rules for the general public are still the same. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus. Prevention measures include:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 15 seconds, including your fingernails, wrists and between your fingers. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands

  • Avoid close contact with people who are ill

  • Stay home when you are ill

  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then immediately throw the tissue in the garbage and wash your hands

  • If you don’t have a tissue, sneeze or cough into your sleeve or arm

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces

  • Avoid sharing personal items

  • Don’t panic. COVID-19 is usually transmissible only through at least 15 minutes of contact within 6 feet of an affected person.

We are fortunate to live in a community with an excellent local public health system. All the reliable and evidence-based advice I'm sharing on this e-blast and social media comes directly from Toronto Public Health. Toronto Public Health is providing up-to-the-minute advice for community residents as information and news about the outbreak become available. You can follow these updates at toronto.ca/coronavirus as well as my website, where I've summarized information and advice from public health officials. My staff are monitoring Toronto Public Health closely to keep that page updated. If you have any questions about COVID-19, please check Toronto Public Health's page for answers or email my office at councillor_carroll@toronto.ca. I must stress that neither myself nor my staff can provide medical or diagnostic advice. If you are seeking medical advice related to COVID-19, call Toronto Public Health at 416-338-7600, Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-000 or your health care provider.

Current situation Here is the latest information from Toronto Public Health as of 4:00PM on March 12, 2020:

Toronto Public Health (TPH) is monitoring 29 positive cases of the novel coronavirus: COVID-19 in Toronto. To date, there have been four other confirmed cases reported in Toronto. All four of these people have since recovered from their illness. TPH continues to work with our provincial and federal health colleagues along with airports in response to this situation. At this time the virus is not circulating locally, however given the global circumstances, TPH is actively working with City and health partners to plan for the potential of local spread.

If you have travelled from Hubei Province (China), Iran or Italy within the last 14 days or have had close contact with a person ill with COVID-19, please self-isolate and contact Toronto Public Health at 416-338-7600 within 24 hours of arriving in Toronto. Information about self-isolation is available here.

If you have travelled from anywhere else outside Canada , please monitor your health for symptoms of COVID-19 (e.g. fever, cough or difficulty breathing) for 14 days after you arrive back in Canada. If you develop symptoms, self isolate and contact Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000. Canadians are also advised to avoid all cruise ship travel.

 

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