There are hundreds of people in Greater Sudbury who attended the Prospectors and Developers Association Conference in Toronto at the beginning of March who might be at risk of exposure to COVID-19.
That's the message Public Health Sudbury and Districts is trying to get across this morning after a Sudbury man in his 50s tested positive for COVID-19.
“Our recommendation right now is to consider attendance at this conference as potential exposure,” said Dr. Penny Sutcliffe, medical officer of health.
The health unit is advising those who attended PDAC to monitor themselves for 14 days. If anyone who attended the conference develops symptoms that are consistent with COVID-19, they need to be assessed and most likely tested, Sutcliffe said.
The health unit is still investigating how the man may have contracted COVID-19 to better understand exactly what the risks are. Toronto Public Health is working to track the Sudbury man's movements while he was in Toronto.
What is known is, he travelled to Toronto in his own vehicle on March 1. He attended PDAC March 2-3, then drove home March 4. He went to work — he's employed at the Willet Green Miller Centre, which is operated on the Laurentian University campus by the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines — March 5-6. He presented to the emergency department on March 7 with a cough and difficulty breathing. He was tested and sent home in isolation, where he currently remains.
“We've been working hard to identify any contacts he may have had, at home and at work,” said Sutcliffe. “We're also working with Toronto Public Health to try and determine where this man may have been while he was in Toronto.”
The Willet Green Centre is closed today. Sutcliffe said conversations took place late last night about what appropriate actions would be. The health unit did not advise closure, she said, and the cleaning process is a relatively simple process.
The health unit is still early in its investigation, she said.
“We know the individual has not travelled abroad, nor was he in contact with a confirmed case,” Sutcliffe said. “That's worrisome.”
Sutcliffe said the the health unit is “still very much in containment mode,” not just in Sudbury, but across the province.
“It's important to identify cases in order to take appropriate public health actions, such as isolation and determining who they may have had contact with, in order to contain and limit the spread,” she said.
When asked whether this was a case of community transmission, Sutcliffe said it's still too early to tell.
“We're not there yet, but this absolutely reinforces the point we need to be prepared,” she said.
The current process for testing is through the emergency department, which is very busy already, so there are many actions to try to establish other sites for testing, Sutcliffe said.
She said she applauds this individual for presenting and getting tested when he did.
“It's extremely important that we identify cases so we can continue with containment measures,” she said.