March 16, 2020 - As of March 8, Toronto Public Health (TPH) was monitoring 13 positive cases of the novel coronavirus or COVID-19 in the metropolitan area.

According to TPH, it is actively working with municipal and health partners to plan for the potential of the local spread of the virus.

At the forefront of the city’s fight against COVID-19 is a Canadian Filipino, Dr. Eileen de Villa.

De Villa is the Medical Health Officer for the City of Toronto, a post she has held since March 2017.

Addressing media on March 6, De Villa provided common sense advice for people:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze, ideally with a tissue. Or alternatively your elbow or sleeve.
  • If you do develop symptoms of respiratory illness, call ahead to your healthcare provider to let them know about your symptoms.


“The Office of Emergency Management is actively engaged, our Pandemic Working Group has been convened, and all frontline City divisions and agencies are refining their plans to further prepare,” De Villa read from a prepared statement. 

The city has a dedicated website to inform the public about the unfolding situation: 

https://www.toronto.ca/coronavirus

Canadian Filipino Net featured De Villa in May 2019 after she spoke out against funding cuts to provincial health care in Ontario. 

You can read about the Boston-born and Toronto-raised medical doctor here: 

https://www.canadianfilipino.net/news/toronto-public-health-chief-eileen-de-villa-speaks-out-against-funding-cuts

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that cause illnesses, ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). 

The novel coronavirus (nCoV), which started in China in December 2019, is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.  

Based on World Health Organization’s monitoring report as of March 8, 2020, China has 80, 859 confirmed cases. 

China has reported 3,100 deaths as of that date.

Outside China, there were 24,727 confirmed cases and 484 deaths as of March 8.

De Villa leads the biggest local public health agency in Canada.

TPH provides public health programs and services to 2.9 million residents.

In a February 26 statement, De Villa stressed the importance of measures such as staying home if you don’t feel well.

“These measures may seem simple, but they are very powerful ways to protect yourself and others from getting sick,” De Villa said.


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