Toronto’s public health officer asks for help tracking CO poisoning cases amid Raptors coach’s illness

Torontonians are being asked to help on the front lines of the fight against the rise of ice-blue lung disease and other types of chronic, non-communicable illness.

Toronto Public Health is trying to recruit those people to monitor for symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning after NBA head coach Masai Ujiri tested positive for the problem during a Raptors game.

Ujiri had mistakenly eaten dirt while preparing for Wednesday’s game at the ACC, and became dangerously ill, the Raptors said Thursday.

Toronto, which lost to Cleveland 111-102, said Ujiri will stay home next week as a precaution.

The Raptors said on their Twitter account that Ujiri “fell ill” during halftime, and that he “was treated at the arena (and) also received better treatment (at the hospital).”

“This is another example of how well Toronto residents are treating themselves with respect to the community awareness campaign on combatting CO poisoning,” Dr. Al Saperstein, medical officer of health, said in a statement.

Ujiri, who was born in Brooklyn, was named as the team’s assistant general manager last month and is the former GM of the NBA’s Denver Nuggets.

“He was at the arena as his team is heavily involved in the NBA playoffs,” the team said, adding the Ujiri would remain home next Wednesday, and would return to work next Friday.

“This is another example of how well Toronto residents are treating themselves with respect to the community awareness campaign on combatting CO poisoning.”

Caren Vaccariello, a longtime friend and former colleague of Ujiri’s, said on her verified Twitter account that he was taken by ambulance to Sunnybrook Hospital in serious condition.

“My friend and colleague Masai Ujiri got sick & is being treated at the hospital. They’re getting everything he needs. He is an incredible human being. Stay tuned,” she wrote in the tweet.

Caren Vaccariello, a longtime friend and former colleague of Masai Ujiri’s, has verified her Tweets with @SatansCloudMama and @andefriedlander.

Linda Faulkner, executive director of The Ottawa Hospital’s Institute for Rehabilitation and Research, has weighed in on the situation, saying on Twitter that it is “bad,” adding that he is “an amazing, genuine person.”

In Ontario, an office building owned by the Nakheel Real Estate Group in Toronto was evacuated Wednesday afternoon after an elevated CO concentration was detected in the air, about four hours after the Raptors won their opener of the Eastern Conference playoffs against Cleveland.

The residents there were relocated until it was deemed safe to return.

Smog, which is caused by combustion of fossil fuels, has been blamed for the deadly tragedy of blackouts across Quebec and Ontario, which led to the deaths of an estimated 4,000 people and rendered infrastructure a mess across the region, at a cost of some $2 billion.

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