Ontario records first possible COVID-19-related death

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The Ontario Minister of Health has confirmed a death possibly caused by COVID-19 in Barrie on Tuesday (March 16).

The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, the public health unit that serves Barrie and surrounding areas, said in an email Tuesday (March 17) that: “it has not been determined if the patient died with COVID 19 or because of COVID 19.”

The patient, who reports say is a man in his 70s, tested positive for the virus only after his death.

The Ontario Minister of Health is expected to provide an update within the hour on the case.

If confirmed, this would be first death caused by COVID-19 in Ontario. There have been four deaths related to the virus in B.C. This case would bring Canada’s toll to five.

Photo courtesy The Canadian Press

UPDATE:

Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health, has issued the following statement in response to the death.

“It brings me great sadness to report a death in Ontario that is potentially related to COVID-19,” Williams wrote in a statement.

“The individual was a 77-year old man who passed away on March 11 at the Royal Victoria Hospital. This individual was a close contact of a positive case and COVID-19 was recently identified after death. The coroner’s investigation is ongoing and more will be known about the specific cause of death in the days ahead.”

“I know all Ontario families join me in extending our heartfelt condolences to his friends, family and loved ones. I would also like to thank all the staff who provided him excellent care.”

To quell the spread of the virus, the Ontario government enacted a declaration of emergency, closing all facilities providing indoor recreational programs, public libraries, private schools, licensed child care centres, theatres, cinemas, concert venues and bars and restaurants (except those that provide takeout food and delivery. These closures are effective immediately.

The declaration also prohibits organized public events of over 50 people, including parades and events and communal services within places of worship until March 31st.

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