On Monday, the City of Toronto said it would delay the return of city workers to work until Jan. 2, 2019, citing the increasing threat of a flu-like infection known as COVID-19. The city has said that it expects nearly 150,000 people to contract the illness in the month leading up to the January contract date.
In the meantime, the city is urging people to take extra measures to avoid catching COVID-19. The agency cautions people against getting a free meal from a food vendor (the virus can be passed when an infected person eats contaminated food), not sneezing or coughing into their hands (the virus can be carried in the mucus on your hands), and not using utensils or plates that have been touched by an infected person.
“It will be very hard to detect if you are infected as your symptoms typically mimic a normal illness such as the common cold,” Omicron 137 director Dr. Catherine White said in a news release, referring to COVID-19.
White also stated that “with COVID-19, some people show symptoms for only a day or less, and we expect there will be several flare-ups over the coming months.”
The city’s contract for back-to-work legislation is set to expire on Dec. 30. The union representing city workers, CUPE Local 47, filed a contempt complaint in the Ontario Labour Relations Board on Friday, alleging the city has violated an agreement that required an arbitration hearing in the dispute.
Meanwhile, the National Post reported that a spokeswoman for the Public Health Agency of Canada suggested it had become a rare condition, noting that there are no known epidemiological studies that link COVID-19 to Ottawa or Ontario.
An Ottawa group, PEN & PARCEL Society, has begun a campaign in Toronto to improve City workers’ health by raising awareness of the H1N1, or swine flu, illness, the same one that has put an end to school districts across Canada, including in Los Angeles, Boston and Toronto. Ottawa’s primary care centre was closed to members of the public in October.