coronavirus toronto

People in Toronto are worried schools may be a breeding ground for coronavirus

With two presumptive cases of the new novel coronavirus now confirmed in Toronto, residents are getting progressively more concerned about the disease's spread in the city.

Many, including schools in the GTA, have been taking their own precautions beyond what is currently recommended by health officials.

Though the Toronto District School Board recently provided a release from the City of Toronto to reassure the school community that the risk of catching the virus in Canada is low, many parents and staff are still apparently very much on edge.

Some families are demanding that the city's schools take some type of action, with parents taking to social media to call for everything from implementing mandatory preventive measures like face masks and hand sanitizer to shutting down schools completely for a week or "until [coronavirus] is over."

Paranoid parents in York Region are also urging their school board to exercise greater caution regarding the virus, even launching a petition for school officials to track the status of students who've recently visited China and force them to stay home "for a minimum of 17 days for the purpose of self-quarantine," among other things.

The petition has been signed by more than 8,000 parents of students at 145 schools in the GTA as of Monday afternoon.

At least one school in the area has gone as far as independently implementing such rules. According to CTV News, the principal of Markham private school Somerset Academy issued a letter asking that students who have recently travelled to Asia stay off campus.

"You will not be permitted back into Somerset Academy or Yips until you and your family have been home from your travels a minimum of 15 days from the date you have landed back in Canada," the letter allegedly reads.

Toronto's medical officer of health has continued to assert that the city and the provice are equipped to deal with any potential cases and that Torontonians do not have to be overly concerned, as the risk to the community is extremely low.

Still, many members of the public are still panicking, buying up (and re-selling) protective facemasks and showing up to emegency departments without any signs of illness.

Residents are asked to keep in mind that it is regular flu season, and that though little is known about the new novel coronavirus, tens of thousands of people in Canada die of the average flu (which are often a form of common coronavirus) every year without any associated public alarm. 

Also, the median age of those who have died so far from the novel coronavirus is around 75, indicating that like many infectious diseases, the old, already sick and immunocompromised are the most susceptible and people in generally good health need not be inordinately worried.

Toronto Public Health has also said that anyone presenting with flu-like symptoms including coughing, fever, sore throat and shortness of breath should stay at home to recover if they are not sick enough to require hospitalization, which "is standard care for this type of illness."

At the time of publication, more than 2,700 people have been diagnosed with 2019-nCoV — mostly of them China, with a few cases confirmed in over a dozen other countries including Australia, France, the U.S. — and 81 have died.

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