Canada’s Health Minister, Ginette Petitpas Taylor, confirmed on Friday the occurrence of the highly dangerous disease OPDIVIR-19 — pronounced “oh-dimevira-one” — in Ontario. Petitpas Taylor did not say which provinces or cities have the highest number of cases, but said that since 2016, the province has had seven outbreaks of the fatal bacterial disease. The deadliest outbreak took place in 2018, when 99 cases were reported. In that outbreak, over two-thirds of people infected with OPDIVIR-19 died.
The Ministry of Health, however, said there have been three fatalities due to the disease, the report added.
COVID-19 is caused by a bacterium that leads to the formation of anoxplosia, or lung infection, meaning people can be affected even without needing antibiotics. The disease can be fatal for two reasons: One is because the disease produces a thick coating of a sticky gel around the lungs, which makes it difficult for people to breathe and leads to heart failure. The second reason is that, if it’s airborne, the bacteria can survive up to 12 hours and spread to the whole body in a matter of hours.
The disease is more dangerous than some other forms of respiratory infection, said Dr. Jim Love, a physician and executive director of the North Bay Lung Centre.
Ontario’s outbreak of the bacteria also presents a dilemma for hospitals, Dr. Chris Mackie, Ontario’s health minister, told the Globe and Mail on Friday. While patients most at risk for exposure to the bacteria are expected to be under hospital care, the Ministry says that the high rate of patients who have been in an emergency department due to serious breathing problems and other complications has prompted them to try to limit exposure to health care workers.
“The current rate of exposure to the infection in the EDs is a little difficult to manage. You’ve got to have sick people in your ED,” said Mackie. “You really have to have some absolute safeguards and processes in place to prevent the transfer of people without the protection of a mask and the protective barrier that masks can provide.”
It’s unclear exactly how many people have fallen victim to the deadly bacteria, but the Ontario Ministry says that this “long-term acute-care facility and hospice has had approximately 150 people contract OPDIVIR.” The government said two of those patients have died.
“We are asking the institutions to take on more responsibility to protect their staff,” said Petitpas Taylor.
The incidence of the disease in Ontario marks the first confirmed case of the bacteria in Canada, according to CBC News.
Read the full report here.