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Ontario Reports 1st Death Linked To COVID-19

A 77-year-old man is the fifth person in Canada to die from the novel coronavirus.
Ontario's chief medical officer Dr. David Williams speaks to the media with Health Minister Christine Elliott and Premier Doug Ford in the background in Toronto on Tuesday.
Ontario's chief medical officer Dr. David Williams speaks to the media with Health Minister Christine Elliott and Premier Doug Ford in the background in Toronto on Tuesday.

TORONTO — Ontario health officials confirmed the province’s first death in a patient with COVID-19 on Tuesday, hours after Premier Doug Ford declared a state of emergency.

The 77-year-old man in the Muskoka region was a close contact of another positive case and wasn’t listed a confirmed case before he died, rather he was under investigation for the virus, said a spokesman for Health Minister Christine Elliott.

COVID-19 was discovered after his death, said Travis Kann.

The investigation into the exact cause of death is ongoing.

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’s intent is 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.

4 deaths in B.C.

In Ontario, at least 185 confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported, including five people that have recovered. Eight new infections were added Tuesday — the smallest number of new cases in several days.

In British Columbia, four people have already died from COVID-19. There are more than 400 confirmed cases across Canada.

Ontario 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 Premier Doug Ford makes an announcement declaring a state of emergency for the province in Toronto on Tuesday as Health Minister Christine Elliott and Dr. David Williams, the province's chief medical officer of health, look on.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford makes an announcement declaring a state of emergency for the province in Toronto on Tuesday as Health Minister Christine Elliott and Dr. David Williams, the province's chief medical officer of health, look on.

Ontario is also purchasing more personal protective equipment such as 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 child-care 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 HuffPost Canada

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