Ontario’s first COVID-related death: Elderly man at RVH could have succumbed to virus

Chief Medical Officer of Health said case begs questions whether there has been community transmission

A man who recently passed away at Barrie’s Royal Victoria Hosptial is potentially Ontario’s first fatality in relation to COVID-19.

Medical investigators are still probing the situation, but say a 77-year-old Barrie man receiving treatment for an unrelated illness at RVH passed away March 11th. He tested positive for the disease following his death.

“He had a complex medical background,” confirmed the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Charles Gardner.

The coroner’s investigation is expected to be completed on Wednesday.

The man who passed away was in contact with someone confirmed to be the third case of COVID-19 in Simcoe Muskoka, a man in his 70s who was visiting Barrie from Alberta.

He is currently being treated at RVH and is in serious but stable condition.

For privacy reasons, Gardner would not divulge the relationship between the man from Alberta and the person who died but said the two had been in close spaces over several days and multiple times.

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Gardner would not go as far as calling the Alberta man’s case and the death of the Barrie man community transmission but said it was not travel-related.

“There wasn’t international travel involved. The close contact had travelled from Alberta which has not been identified as an area of concern. Nor have we identified a clear line of infection back to the source.”

Gardner said it does beg the question whether this was community acquired.

“This death is further evidence of the increasingly seriousness of the situation we are in, which is why the province has been taking decisive steps to manage the spread of COVID-19 in Ontario,” said Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams. “Earlier today, 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 to the extent that such facilities provide takeout food and delivery. These closures are effective immediately. “

The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit said two other cases, a Barrie man and a woman from Bradford, both in their 40s, are recovering in self-isolation at home.