Ontario marks first coronavirus-related death as patient total rises to 186
A 77-year-old man infected with COVID-19 has died in the Muskoka Region, according to Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott, marking the province's first coronavirus-related fatality.
While it is not clear if the 2019 novel coronavirus was the primary cause of death in this case, Elliott confirmed on Tuesday morning that the patient, a close contact of another confirmed case, had tested positive for COVID-19 after his death.
"There has been a death. I'm very sorry and extend my condolences to this person's family," she said to reporters at Queen's Park.
"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."
Shortly before Elliott confirmed the patient's death, Ontario updated its dedicated COVID-19 web page to reflect that it is now investigating 1,537 cases of the illness province-wide.
On the best advice of our Chief Medical Officer of Health and other leading public health officials across the province, we are taking decisive action by declaring a State of Emergency to protect the public from the spread of #COVID19. https://t.co/iywHASzs7b— Christine Elliott (@celliottability) March 17, 2020
As of March 17 at 11:30 a.m., the provincial government had confirmed 186 cases, five of which had already been cleared.
Among the nine new patients identified in Tuesday morning's update are five people from Hamilton, two from Middlesex-London, and one from York.
The ages, genders and methods of virus transmission are still pending for all of these new patients, save for the York case, which involves a man in his 60s who recently travelled to Costa Rica.
Some 424 people are said to be infected with the 2019 novel coronavirus in Canada as of Tuesday morning, while the World Health Organization is reporting a global total of 167,515 cases.
The WHO's most-recent tally shows that 6,606 people had died as a result of contracting the virus as of Monday morning.
‘You can’t fight a fire with a blindfold’ says @WHO chief @DrTedros renews call to countries to ‘test, test, test’ all cases of suspected infection.— UN News (@UN_News_Centre) March 16, 2020
Full update in our UN News in Brief: https://t.co/4ggWXlKjBL
While we saw less new COVID-19 cases reported in Ontario on Tuesday morning than we have in recent days (nine, as opposed to Monday's 32 or Sunday's 39,) health officials remain gravely concerned about the potential impact of the virus.
Premier Doug Ford declared a state of emergency just this morning in response to the fast-growing number of cases in Ontario and the world.
"We're facing an unprecedented time in our history," said Ford to reporters during a press conference at Queen's Park around 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning. "This is a decision that was not made lightly. COVID-19 constitutes a danger of major proportions."
Under the declaration, all organized public events of over 50 people are prohibited effective immediately and until at least March 31.
Bars, nighclubs, dine-in restaurants, public libraries, private schools, childcare centres, recreational facilities, theatres, cinemas and concert venues have been ordered to close across the province, and a $300 million investment has been announced to help slow down the spread of COVID-19.
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