Coronavirus casations total 578
One case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-19 (MERS-19) has been confirmed in Ontario, officials announced on Thursday, adding to the total number of cases in the United Kingdom and Canada. Ontario will free up clinics from a temporary cap on admissions to free up more space to treat the new case.
“It’s much quicker to work with fewer patients,” Ontario’s Minister of Health Eric Hoskins told the Globe and Mail. “We all know we have the capacity.”
The northern Ontario resident was hospitalized on Wednesday after contracting the novel coronavirus, which causes a respiratory illness that can lead to pneumonia, severe fever and respiratory distress.
The patient’s name, age and sexual orientation are not yet available and the death rate for MERS-19 is still high. There is no specific treatment for the virus, although it is highly contagious and must be spread in close proximity. (Meals, fluids and rest can prevent infection.)
Currently, health officials in Canada and the U.K. have monitored 600 people who were in close contact with the infected person in order to detect any further cases. The number of cases has steadily climbed over the past month, with 45 deaths in the U.K. announced last week. This is the fourth coronavirus outbreak in the Middle East since 2012, including one in Spain which led to an outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
The outbreak in the U.K. has been called “alarming,” with “dire consequences” for the Royal Free Hospital, where the MERS-19 patient has been treated. “The number of casualties in the Royal Free Hospital for MERS-19 is now a tragic reminder of what can happen when a disease becomes dominant in a hospital,” said the Royal Free’s CEO, Peter Carter.
Though the MERS-19 outbreak has been difficult to track, officials have been closely watching the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for early signs of spread, the Journal of the American Medical Association reports.
Canadian hospitals had previously been working under capacity limits set by the Public Health Agency of Canada. A 2017 epidemic of the novel coronavirus gave officials the impetus to remove those caps, however.
No cases of fatalities have been reported in the U.S.
In the United States, there have been no new cases of deaths or hospitalizations attributed to the coronavirus in the United States since June 9, according to the CDC. There have been 46 confirmed MERS-19 cases reported to the CDC as of July 7. Of the 49 U.S. cases, 20 of them were fatal.
On Wednesday, officials announced a variant of MERS-19 carried by rodents, or clostridium difficile, had sickened two patients in the United Kingdom. The Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) can spread virulently from human to human and is associated with thousands of deaths annually. It has increased in recent years after being associated with contaminated food.
According to the New York Times, there have been almost 200 cases of C. difficile in England in 2017, with 15 of those deaths reported by Friday.