03/09/2020 21:38 EDT | Updated 03/10/2020 13:19 EDT

Canadian Politicians In Self-Isolation After Possible Contact With Coronavirus

U.S. President Donald Trump was also at the conference.

Two Canadian politicians are in self-isolation after potentially coming into contact with attendees of political conferences in Washington, D.C. who tested positive for novel coronavirus.

Anthony Housefather, a Liberal MP from Montreal, was present at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference last week, where it was confirmed after that an attendee tested positive for the virus. 

Toronto Public Health is working on tracing the patient, who is from Toronto, and advised Housefather to stay at home for the time being, he said in a statement to HuffPost Canada.

“Out of an abundance of caution, I am self-isolating at home awaiting further instruction from Toronto public health officials,” he said. “I feel absolutely fine and it has already been a week since I left the conference.”

The Canadian Press
Josh Matlow, left, and Anthony Housefather, right, have both placed themselves in self-isolation after potential contact with a coronavirus patient.

Toronto city councillor Josh Matlow is also placing himself in isolation till March 20, after he was told that he came into contact with someone who tested positive for novel coronavirus after returning from a conference in Washington. Matlow said contact occurred on March 5, but so far he is feeling “absolutely fine,” though he had to cancel all public events.  

Politicians in the U.S. also placed themselves in quarantine after a participant at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) last month later tested positive for novel coronavirus.

CPAC, which took place from Feb. 26 to Feb. 29, is an annual event that can draw in over 10,000 people. This year, U.S. President Donald Trump attended, along with Vice-President Mike Pence, several cabinet ministers and prominent Republican congressmen.

Sen. Ted Cruz announced his own 14-day self-quarantine on March 8 after he having a “brief conversation and handshake” with the patient who tested positive after the conference. Cruz said he’s not experiencing any symptoms. Two other Republicans who attended CPAC have also self-isolated.

The organizers of CPAC said Trump had no interaction with the patient.

Housefather and Matlow’s self-quarantines comes at the heel of Canada’s first-reported death from COVID-19. Public health officials say a man in his 80s passed away after contracting the virus at the B.C. long-term care facility where he lived. 

Canada has at least 72 confirmed cases of the virus. While the Public Health Agency of Canada still says the risk of contracting the disease in Canada is low, but travellers are asked to monitor their health, especially after returning from abroad. 

With files from Canadian Press and Samantha Karanth