Man who tested positive for coronavirus rode TTC, Mississauga transit

Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto's medical officer of health, gives a COVID-19 update Friday at city hall with Toronto Mayor John Tory, left, and Coun. Joe Cressy, the city's public health chair.

Toronto Public Health is bracing for a new phase of COVID-19 to spread in the city and providing details of the TTC routes taken by a newly diagnosed resident.

Dr. Eileen de Villa, the city’s medical officer of health, told reporters at city hall Friday that watching the spread of the coronavirus epidemic globally and in parts of Canada including B.C., “we anticipate and we are prepared for local transmission” of COVID-19.

That means Torontonians who have not travelled from affected regions, or had close contact with those people, infecting each other.

City officials are actively preparing for the increased infection rate, with Fire Chief Matthew Pegg on Thursday convening a meeting of the city’s pandemic planning committee, said de Villa, urging people not to panic and to be assured that infection risk remains low for the general population.

To date, 14 Torontonians have tested positive for COVID-19. Three have recovered, while 11 are at home in self-isolation and are being “actively monitored” by public health officials.

Of two new cases confirmed Thursday night, one was a man in his 50s who had travelled to Iran and arrived back in Toronto on Feb. 27. He went to North York General Hospital’s emergency ward, was assessed and went into self-isolation, de Villa said.

The other man, who is in his 40s, travelled to Las Vegas and arrived back in Toronto on Feb. 28. He went to Toronto Western Hospital on March 3 and is now in self-isolation, she said.

That man used public transit in Toronto and Mississauga to travel to and from work on March 2 to 4, de Villa said, providing the routes he took, while cautioning that he presented low risk of infection to other commuters.

“With respect to public transit this info is being provided out of an abundance of caution — we are talking about low-risk situations and we are actively following up as we do with every case of infectious disease in this city… to minimize any risk in our community,” de Villa told reporters.

Routes the man took include:

  • Around 8:50 a.m. each day riding the subway from Bathurst station to Islington station. Taking the 108 MiWay express bus to his workplace.
  • Travelling home around 6:10 p.m. on the 27 Milton GO bus from his workplace to Yorkdale subway station and riding to St. George station and then to Bathurst station.

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De Villa said the times are approximate. Public health staff are working with the man to get as specific information as possible.

She said she was providing the information in keeping with her commitment to Torontonians to share COVID-19 information as quickly, freely and openly as possible.

David Rider

David Rider is the Star’s City Hall bureau chief and a reporter covering city hall and municipal politics. Follow him on Twitter: @dmrider

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