News Release
March 20, 2020

Toronto Public Health is actively investigating a number of individuals newly infected with COVID-19 in Toronto, including a resident in a City of Toronto long-term care home, a Toronto paramedic and an individual experiencing homelessness.

Toronto Public Health is actively investigating all new cases in collaboration with City partners and reaching out to close contacts of new cases. The City continues to ask that the privacy of those diagnosed with COVID-19 be respected.

Toronto now has 153 cases of COVID-19.

Emergency response by paramedics continues unaffected. Toronto Public Health is working directly with Toronto Paramedic Services regarding the paramedic who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 and the person is self-isolating at home.

Paramedics are highly-trained and receive instruction on approach, screening and assessment of those with symptoms of suspected infectious disease. All frontline staff are equipped with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) including gloves, N95 masks, and eye protection, as well as cleaning supplies. Dispatchers screen all patients calling for emergency service and communicate any risk to responders. Pre-shift screening has also been implemented at all Toronto Paramedics Services’ facilities with staff completing a mandatory assessment and providing a temperature reading prior to every shift.

To ensure a safe and secure environment for residents, Seniors Services and Long-Term Care (SSLTC) took early action and introduced active screening, as well as additional precautions to protect those in City of Toronto long-term care homes, to contain the spread of COVID-19, and to attempt to stop it from entering the long-term care setting. Some of those measures included:
• Active screening of residents, visitors and staff
• Restricting visitors to the long-term care homes
• Cancelling gatherings, events and outings
• Enhancing Infection, Prevention & Control (IPAC) practices and cleaning measures in all departments.

Earlier this week, a resident of Seven Oaks long-term care home was tested for COVID-19 and has now been confirmed as having the virus. Seven Oaks is one of 10 City-operated long-term care homes. The positive diagnosis triggered outbreak protocols at the facility. Seniors Services and Long-Term Care staff are working with Toronto Public Health to contain the outbreak and protect residents. Precautions now include isolation of residents on the affected floor and wearing of PPE by staff when caring for affected floor residents, assessment of all residents and staff including taking of temperatures, tray dining, separation of linens, and enhanced cleaning. Communication with residents and concerned family members remains a priority.

All City-operated long-term care homes continue to provide 24-hour care and service. A provincial direction has limited visitors to long-term care homes to those who are essential to allow staff to focus on resident care rather than visitor screening and monitoring. To support resident’s needs and interests, staff members continue to coordinate programs in resident home areas that support social distancing.

Prior to identification of the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Toronto’s shelter system, Shelter, Support and Housing Administration (SSHA) was already implementing protections for individuals experiencing homelessness. With the help of the City’s Emergency Operations Centre, SSHA has opened eight new facilities to create more space for social distancing. Screening for illness and travel history continues both by phone during intake and in-person. Anyone wanting to access the shelter system identified as requiring a health assessment is being referred to one of the assessment centres at local hospitals. Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) routine practices continue and the sector is prioritizing worker access to PPE.

Toronto Public Health has also followed up with the facility where the individual experiencing homelessness was staying to ensure that enhanced IPAC measures are in place. This includes enhancing cleaning and disinfection to reduce the risk of spread and protect vulnerable residents and the facility’s staff. Signage on hand washing and infection prevention and control is also displayed throughout this facility and other shelters and respites

Toronto Public Health continues to encourage all residents to stay home and reduce their interactions with other people. Residents who have travelled outside of Canada, including to the United States, should self-isolate for 14 days.

More information on the City’s response to COVID-19 is available at

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Lenore Bromley
Toronto Public Health