Dr Susy Hota was in her residency training in internal medicine at the University of Toronto when she saw an email alert about a cluster of undiagnosed pneumonia cases in Wuhan, China. It was the end of December 2019 in the middle of a harsh winter in Canada's commercial capital. "I remember seeing a ProMed-mail," says Dr Hota about the early warning system of the non-profit International Society for Infectious Diseases.
The alert mentioned nine cases in Wuhan. "It was always sounding concerning to me, and I quickly emailed my emergency department lead about the ProMed-mail," recalls Dr Hota, who was then specialising in infectious diseases at the University of Toronto. Within weeks, it would become clear to Canadian epidemiologists like Dr Hota that the mysterious illness was not going away anytime soon and it would come to their own country.
Dr Hota, a second-generation Indian-Canadian, is among the several young medical professionals from Canada's large South Asian diaspora at the forefront of the North American nation's response to the coronavirus pandemic. In Toronto, the country's most populous city, doctors and nurses from India, Bangladesh and Pakistan form a sizeable number of frontline warriors, working every day to protect the people.