Quebec’s first presumptive case of the coronavirus has been detected in a woman who recently returned from a trip to Iran, according to the provincial health minister.
The woman took a plane from Iran to Qatar before arriving at the Montreal airport on Monday, Health Minister Danielle McCann said Thursday evening at an impromptu news conference.
She immediately went to an outpatient clinic in the Montreal region with minor symptoms and was quickly given a mask upon entering, McCann said.
The patient was then put in isolation at a nearby hospital where the proper infection-control measures were “very well implemented,” McCann said.
Health workers had no significant risk of exposure, said McCann, who declined to specify exactly where the medical facilities are located.
She said medical professionals are confident the patient had “limited contact” with others and that the infection-control methods were effective. However, health officials are still investigating who the patient may have come into contact with at the clinic and is monitoring everybody involved for signs of the virus.
“The detection of this case shows that our system is efficient, it is reliable and that the management protocol is well established,” the minister said.
“All the measures that are necessary to protect the population, to protect the workers and take care of the patients, if it occurs, are there.”
A diagnosis is considered presumptive until confirmed by the National Microbiology Lab (NML) in Winnipeg. McCann said those results are expected Sunday.
McCann said the woman did not take public transit to get to the clinic, and hadn’t gone back to work since returning from Iran. She is now in isolation at home for “a period of time and she is doing fine,” the minister said.
There are currently 21 other possible cases under investigation in the province.
“There is no need to worry,” said McCann. “The risk remains low.”
The ministry said a probable case of COVID-19 is determined by several factors, including a body temperature of more than 38 C and meeting COVID-19 exposure criteria.
The World Health Organization has declared the outbreak a global health emergency. More than 81,000 cases of the coronavirus have been detected since it emerged in the Hubei province of China last year.
In Canada, there are currently 13 confirmed cases, with the latest reported this morning.