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Local health unit reports Ontario's second COVID-19 death as cases spike – Ottawa Citizen



Ontario Premier Doug Ford makes an announcement declaring a state of emergency for the province, at the Ontario Legislature in Toronto on Tuesday, March 17, 2020.


TORONTO — A local health unit reported a second death in Ontario linked to COVID-19 on Thursday, saying it may be a case of community transmission, as the premier strongly urged people to practise social distancing and self-isolation.

Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott wasn’t immediately able to confirm the death, but Halton Region Public Health said the man in his 50s also had an underlying health condition.

The man did not travel outside of Canada recently, nor does he have a known link to another confirmed COVID-19 case, said Halton Region’s medical officer of health.

“The indication is there is local transmission,” said Dr. Hamidah Meghani, though she cautioned the investigation is in its early stages.

“This is the tragic proof that we need to work together to slow down the spread of COVID-19…. Do your part and do it now. We only have one shot at this.”

Elliott said it is still unknown whether COVID-19 was the cause of death in the first linked fatality in the province, or if that 77-year-old man died from another cause while also having the novel coronavirus.

Ontario reported 43 new COVID-19 cases Thursday — the largest single-day increase — bringing the total in the province to 257, including the one earlier death and five resolved cases.

Peter Bethlenfalvy, president of the Treasury Board of Ontario, also announced Thursday that he developed mild symptoms associated with COVID-19 and has been tested.

“I’ve been in isolation since, working from home, and will advise when my test results are known,” he said on Twitter.

Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario’s associate chief medical officer of health, said the increase in cases Thursday reflects the province’s labs catching up on a backlog of tests and more people coming home from travel outside of Canada.

Currently, 22 people known to have COVID-19 are in hospitals across Ontario, with half those patients in Toronto facilities, according to that city’s chief medical officer of health.

“I don’t think this has caused any undue pressure on the (hospital) system at this point,” Yaffe said. “But certainly, the system is preparing for that.”

Premier Doug Ford stressed it is “critical” that everyone practise social distancing to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“We must do everything possible to avoid a situation where we see a sudden and dramatic spike in the number of cases and as a result add to the already significant burden on our health-care system,” he said.

Telehealth Ontario — the service Ontarians are asked to call if they have COVID-19 symptoms — is swamped with calls.

Technical difficulties from Wednesday after 300 new lines were added have now been addressed, and the province has since added 1,300 more lines. The Ministry of Health said there were 13,500 calls made to Telehealth on Wednesday alone.

Told of reports that people are going into work after travelling, Ford urged people to follow public health advice and self-isolate for 14 days upon returning from outside the country.

“Does it come to public shaming by your neighbours or your co-workers? Folks, we’re in a critical situation right now,” he said.

“Do not go into work. Do not go into public spaces. Do not be selfish and go out. Stay isolated for two weeks as we require. We don’t have the resources and the police to be knocking on everyone’s door and saying, ‘Are you staying in?”‘

Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. David Williams, said the same will apply to any health care workers who are returning from travel outside of Canada. They too must self-isolate and not return to work immediately.

“Of course, if they develop any illness in that time, they would need to do the same process as everybody else,” he said.

The Ontario government passed emergency legislation Thursday afternoon aimed at protecting workers forced to stay home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ford said it will apply to employees under investigation, supervision or treatment for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Workers in isolation or in quarantine and those who need to provide care to someone related to COVID-19, including for a school or daycare closure, would also be protected.

The bill passed with rare all-party support in just over an hour of debate during a special session of the legislature.

Given social distancing, only 26 members were in the house: 13 governing Progressive Conservatives, eight New Democrats, two Liberals, one Green, one Independent, and the Speaker.

The politicians sat spread across the chamber at Queen’s Park, with several desks between each member.

Ford acknowledged the unprecedented situation and thanked all of the opposition politicians for work with his government to speed up passage of the bill.

“This is about coming together as a united group,” he said. “Representing all of the people of Ontario and doing what is best to protect their health and to make sure we protect the economy.”

A bill that creates temporary exemptions allowing municipal councils to meet via teleconference and to waive noise bylaws to allow grocery deliveries 24 hours a day was also passed.

The government also extended the validation periods for things like drivers licences, health cards and Commercial Vehicle Operators certificates to keep people from coming to Service Ontario locations in-person.

The extension will remain in place until health officials advise the situation has improved, the government said.

The legislature will now be suspended until March 25, two days later than it was previously set to return after March break. Finance Minister Rod Phillips is set to deliver a scaled-back economic forecast that day instead of the planned full budget.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 19, 2020.

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Two new COVID-19 cases in Middlesex-London, three in Huron-Perth – CTV News London



There are two new COVID-19 cases in Middlesex-London region and three new cases in Huron Perth, according to local health officials.

On Saturday, the Middlesex-London Health Unit reported that the two new cases are both men, one in his 50s, the other in his 60s.

Although it’s unclear at this time how they contracted the virus or if they are in hospital or self-isolating at home.

That brings the total number of cases to 25 in Middlesex-London.

Meanwhile, Huron Perth Public Health confirmed three more cases on Saturday, for a total of five in the region.

The first new case is a man in his 60s from Stratford who had close contact with two confirmed cases in London. He currently in self-isolation at home.

The second case is a St. Marys woman who works in healthcare but had no travel or contact with confirmed cases.

The third case is a man in his 60s from South Huron who has since been transferred to London Health Sciences Centre. He too, had no travel history or contact with positive cases.

“We were not surprised to receive these three new cases in Huron Perth,” says Dr. Miriam Klassen, Medical Officer of Health in a news release. “The new cases confirm that we are now seeing local spread in our area, which is a similar pattern to what has been showing up across Ontario.”

Here are some tips to help prevent the spread of COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands often with warm water and soap or an alcohol‐based hand sanitizer
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick
  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Sneeze and cough into your sleeve
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth

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Second case of COVID-19 announced in Thunder Bay –



THUINDER BAY – A day after reporting the city’s first confirmed case of COVID-19, the Thunder Bay District Health Unit has confirmed a second, unrelated case.

The case is travel-related and involves an individual in their twenties, who returned from the United States about two weeks ago. They developed symptoms while self-isolating at home, informed the health unit, and were tested at the hospital’s COVID-19 assessment centre.

The health unit says it immediately began an investigation to determine others who may have been exposed through contact with the individual while they were infectious, saying it has now contacted an unspecified number of people.

“The public health investigation and follow-up is ongoing, however, it is clear that people have been taking precautions including self-isolating,” said Janet DeMille, medical officer of health at TBDHU. “This is important as it helps contain the virus to a group of closely linked individuals and reduces the likelihood of spread in the community.”

The new case brings the total number of confirmed cases in Northwestern Ontario to four.

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London man dies of COVID-19 as more positive cases reported –



A London man has died of COVID-19 as public health officials across the region report new cases Saturday. 

CBC London has learned that a man in his 70s, who had previously been admitted to hospital, has died. It’s the first death in the Middlesex-London region since the pandemic was declared.

Two new cases of the virus were reported by the Middlesex-London Health Unit Saturday, bringing the total number of positive cases in the city to 25.

Public health officials say a man in his 50s and a man in his 60s have contracted the virus, but details have not yet been released regarding how the men were infected or whether they’re in hospital or self-isolation. 

Meanwhile, Huron Perth Public Health officials have confirmed three new cases in the area, including a healthcare worker.   

She is in her 40s, from St. Marys, and had no travel history or known contact with any confirmed case. She’s currently in self-isolation at home. 

A man who presented at South Huron Hospital, and has since been transferred to London Health Sciences Centre, also tested positive. He’s in his 60s and has no travel history or known contact with positive cases.

Another man with close contact to two Londoners already diagnosed with the virus, has also tested positive. He’s in his 60s and is in self-isolation at home in Stratford.

Huron Perth currently has five cases, including a man in critical condition in hospital. 

Oxford and Elgin counties, and the city of St. Thomas have not yet reported Saturday on whether there are new cases. As of Friday, there were five cases in that area. 

More people in hospital

As the number of positive cases grow, so do hospital admissions. The London Health Science Centre said there are four people, two at University Hospital and two at Victoria Hospital in intensive care units. 

Across Ontario, the number of confirmed COVID-19 patients in intensive care units has doubled in less than two days.

There were 43 patients hospitalized in Ontario’s ICUs on Friday, up from 29 on Thursday and 17 on Wednesday, according to figures from the province’s associate chief medical officer of health, Dr. Barbara Yaffe.

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