News Release
January 7, 2020

Toronto Public Health has recently been informed of cases of undiagnosed viral pneumonia being investigated by health authorities in the city of Wuhan in central China, associated with a local live seafood market. Chinese authorities have engaged the World Health Organization (WHO) to assist with the investigation of this cluster of illness.

Currently, Toronto Pubic Health is not aware of any reported cases of this illness in Canada, and the overall risk to residents is considered very low. Given that Toronto Pearson International Airport is an international travel hub, Toronto Public Health is actively monitoring this situation, along with provincial and national health agencies.  

This cluster of unknown respiratory illness has been identified at the same time as local circulation of influenza is common in Toronto. As a reminder, influenza, also known as the flu, can spread to others before symptoms even appear. Typical flu symptoms include sudden onset of high fever, chills, sore throat, cough and muscle aches. Other common symptoms include headache, loss of appetite and feeling tired. Recovering from the flu usually takes a week to 10 days, but for some people it can worsen pre-existing medical conditions such as asthma or heart disease, or develop into more serious health problems such as pneumonia and, in rare circumstances, can be fatal.

Members of the public are advised to take the usual measures to reduce the risk of transmission of the flu and respiratory illness. These measures include:
• get a yearly influenza vaccination, available from clinics and pharmacies
• wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water or use an alcohol-hand sanitizer
• cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze
• if you don’t have a tissue, sneeze or cough into your sleeve or arm
• stay home if you are ill.

Residents who return from recent international travel and become ill with respiratory signs and symptoms such as cough and fever are reminded to report their travel history to any health professional, or an emergency room, when they visit.

More information about the flu is available at:


“At this point, while there are no cases of this illness reported in Toronto, the City has a well-developed response plan should the situation change. In the meantime, we will continue to monitor and work collaboratively with our colleagues at the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Province who are the leads for this area. This is a great example of our work behind the scenes to keep our residents healthy, safe and strong, and how public health is a key contributor to the sustainability of our whole health system.”
– Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health

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Lenore Bromley
Toronto Public Health