Coronavirus: Simcoe Muskoka health unit confirms first local COVID-19 case

The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit is reporting the region’s first confirmed case of the novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19, in a local resident who had recently travelled to Germany and Spain.

According to the health unit, the individual is self-isolating and is recovering at home.

The man in his 40s was tested at the Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre in Barrie, Ont., on Monday.

“These are early hours in our investigation, and we are working closely with the individual to follow up on known contacts who may have potentially been exposed to the virus and possible exposure sites,” the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit’s medical officer of health, Charles Gardner, said in a statement.

Gardner said a case of COVID-19 in Simcoe Muskoka isn’t unexpected given the spread of the virus around the world.

“Our front-line staff took all necessary precautions and strictly followed all infection prevention and control protocols,” RVH president and CEO Janice Skot said in a statement.

“I want to assure our region that RVH is very safe for patients and visitors. Our health centre remains open, and clinics and procedures continue to operate as normal.”

Gardner said the health unit’s focus is to break the chain of transmission and limit the spread of infection.

Within the city of Barrie, staff are ensuring increased sanitation practices on all common touch points and public spaces at city facilities and on Barrie Transit buses, Scott LaMantia, Barrie’s senior communications adviser, said in an email to Global News on Thursday.

“The public are being asked to stay home if feeling unwell,” LaMantia said, adding public education focusing on handwashing and cough etiquette is also being increased at all city facilities and buses.

“The city is working closely with the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit and monitoring the global situation in order to respond,” LaMantia added.

“We will follow the operational recommendations of the health unit regarding events and public gatherings. At this time, there are no cancellations planned and our city facilities remain open.

On Thursday, Ontario announced 17 confirmed COVID-19 cases, bringing the province’s total to 59. As of March 12, there are 139 confirmed cases in Canada.

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