First COVID-19-related death in Ontario identified as man from our region
Published Tuesday, March 17, 2020 12:52PM EDT Last Updated Wednesday, March 18, 2020 1:59PM EDT
TORONTO -- A 77-year-old Barrie man is Ontario's first death in a patient who tested positive for COVID-19.
Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams responsed to the death on Tuesday saying, "It brings me great sadness to report a death in Ontario that is potentially related to COVID-19."
The man died in Barrie on March 11 at Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre and was in close contact with another positive case. At the time, the man wasn't listed as a confirmed case, but was under investigation for the virus, said Travis Kann, a spokesman for Health Minister Christine Elliott.
COVID-19 was discovered after his death, said Kann.
"He did test positive for COVID-19. However, we have asked for the assistance of the coroner's office to do a complete examination and investigation to determine whether this person died because of COVID or with COVID," explained Elliott.
"The coroner's investigation is ongoing and more will be known about the specific cause of death in the days ahead," said Dr. Williams.
The news comes just hours after Premier Doug Ford declared a state of emergency.
The state of emergency declared by Ford mandates the closure of bars, restaurants, theatres, libraries and banning public events with more than 50 people.
"We're facing an unprecedented time in our history," Ford said. "This was a decision that was not made lightly. COVID-19 constitutes a danger of major proportions."
The declaration intends to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus and avoid overwhelming the health-care system, Ford said.
Effective immediately, the province ordered the closure of all facilities providing indoor recreation programs, all public libraries, all private schools, all licensed childcare centres, all theatres, cinemas and concert venues, and all bars and restaurants except to provide takeout food and delivery.
Ontario previously ordered all public schools closed for two weeks following March break.
The emergency order also bans public events of over 50 people, including parades, events and services within places of worship. It is in place until March 31.
Shopping malls are not included, but Ontario's chief medical officer of health said he is monitoring that situation.
Essential services such as grocery stores, pharmacies, convenience stores, public transit, manufacturing facilities, construction sites and office buildings will continue to operate, Ford said.
"I want to be very clear about what this means and what this doesn't mean: This is not a provincial shutdown," Ford said. "The vast majority of businesses, including those most vital to day-to-day life will not be affected by this order."
Ontario has reported a total of 185 cases of COVID-19, with five of them fully resolved. Eight new infections were added Tuesday -- the smallest number of new cases in several days.
The province has set aside a $100-million contingency fund, and is receiving $200 million from the federal government. That money is all being directed to health-care resources, Ford said, and a provincial support package for businesses is in the works.
The money will be used to open 75 more critical care beds in hospitals, as well as 500 post-acute care beds and to help hospitals set up 25 more COVID-19 assessment centres.
Ontario is also purchasing more personal protective equipment like masks, gloves and surgical gowns for front-line health workers, as well as more ventilators.
There will also be more money for long-term care homes for additional staffing and infection control measures, and a fund is being set up to provide respite care and childcare services for front-line workers in COVID-19 assessment centres.
Scrapping time-of-use electricity pricing is being looked at, Ford said, as people are now largely at home during the hours with peak rates.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on March 17, 2020.
With files from CTV's Kim Phillips