The Ontario government has committed to protecting college and university communities from the emerging coronavirus (2019-nCoV) by carrying out a multi-faceted response to the outbreak.

Ross Romano, minister of colleges and universities, was joined by Christine Elliott, minister of health, to highlight ongoing priorities made by the province.

“The health and well-being of Ontarians, including our post-secondary students and faculty from Canada and abroad, is our number one priority,” said Elliott and Romano in the press announcement.

The joint statement was made after health officials confirmed that a university student was the third coronavirus case in Ontario, and the fourth in Canada. According to public health officials, the Western University student was deemed a low risk to the campus community.

The student reportedly followed all protocols and procedures and recovered within a few days.

She remains self-isolated in her home, stated the Middlesex-London Health Unit. 

According to the Ministry of Health, the risk of contracting the novel coronavirus remains low. Recent reports have also shown Ontario coronavirus investigations to be in decline.

Dr. David Williams, chief medical officer of health, and Dr. Barbara Yaffe, associate chief medical officer of health, called the situation “reassuring” in press briefings last month.

“The system is working, and we’re investigating individuals of concern who have self-reported and come forward,” said Dr. Williams.

The briefings have also been joined by leaders from Ontario colleges and universities to provide them with up-to-date information.

Seven cases of the coronavirus (2019-nCoV) have been confirmed in Canada as of February 8. Three of these cases were found to be in Ontario, and four in British Columbia. 

U of T has undertaken ongoing measures to inform students and faculty of correct procedures. The school is monitoring the situation and remains in communication with faculty health experts working at the school’s hospital partners.

Three health updates have been published on the U of T website, along with an FAQ page addressing common questions by the university community.

“The University of Toronto is taking this very seriously and is receiving directions from public health officials, who continue to indicate that the risk in Canada is low,” Sandy Welsh, U of T vice-provost, explained in a statement to U of T News.

Welsh also warned that the effects of misinformation can lead to discrimination, adding that “assessment of risk should be based on travel and exposure history, not on race or ethnicity.”

In a statement, Elliott pledged Ontario’s pre-emptive efforts to respond and monitor the situation.

“The province’s public health officials and everyone working on the front lines of our healthcare system are effectively monitoring for, detecting, and containing this virus,” said Elliott to the public.

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