Hamilton

84-year-old man is Niagara's 1st confirmed case of COVID-19 as Brock cancels classes

A statement from Niagara Region Public Health and Emergency Services says the man was transferred to hospital by EMS on March 10 following a separate media issue. He tested positive for COVID-19 two days later.

'The patient is currently in an isolation room ... and in stable condition': Dr. Karim Ali

A man in his 80s has been confirmed as the Niagara Region's first official case of COVID-19. (Niagara Region Public Health and Emergency Services)

An 84-year-old man is the Niagara Region's first confirmed case of COVID-19.

Brock University and Niagara College have also cancelled all face-to-face classes and the City of St. Catharines has announced it's closing all its recreational and community facilities to cut down on the spread of the virus.

The region's first case was listed among 19 others confirmed by the province Friday.

A statement from Niagara Region Public Health and Emergency Services says the man was transferred to hospital by EMS on March 10 following a separate medical issue. He tested positive for COVID-19 two days later.

"The patient is currently in an isolation room undergoing treatment by our infectious diseases team to manage his symptoms and is in stable condition," stated Dr. Karim Ali, director of the region's infectious diseases division.

"We will continue to take every possible step to ensure the safety of our staff, physicians, patients and families."

The man was brought to Niagara Health System's (NHS) St. Catharines site where he's currently being treated in an isolation room.

"The hospital remains a safe place for patients and the public. We are taking every possible step to ensure a safe work and patient care environment," reads an update from NHS.

Frontline staff and paramedics who were in contact with the man before he developed symptoms have also been directed to self-isolate "out of an abundance of caution."

Health officials are also following up with other people the man came in close contact with.

They note it's still not clear how the man became infected. While he did not travel recently, a family member did return from Portugal not long ago.

"The working hypothesis is that this family member is the source of infection," says the health unit, adding that family member is now in isolation as well.

"Despite Niagara having its first case, there continues to be no evidence of local circulation of the virus in Niagara or Ontario," said Dr. Mustafa Hirji, acting medical officer of health for the region.

"The risk to Niagara residents therefore remains low."

Still, out of an "abundance of caution," the city of St. Catharines has halted all community facilities until April 5.

"Despite these closures all essential city services will continue," said CAO Shelley Chemnitz in a video posted to Twitter.

She added health and safety is a priority for the city, she said, adding enhanced disinfection efforts are already in place at all facilities.

'Academic term is not at risk,' says Brock

Brock and Niagara College have followed the lead of other Ontario post-secondary institutions and announced all in-person classes will be cancelled.

On campus classes will be suspended until further notice as of March 16, says an update on the college website.

All campus events and sports are also cancelled, but on-line courses, work placements, co-ops and clinicals will all continue.

Residences at Brock will remain open, but students who are able to head home are encouraged to do so. Also, all face-to-face classes, labs, seminars and exams will be suspended as of 5 p.m.

"The academic term is not at risk," reads the university's webpage.

"Faculty members will be asked for alternatives for course delivery, and the goal will be to resume virtual classes the week of Monday, March 23 for those instructors who are able to mount their classes in a virtual environment."

Both the Hamilton and St. Catharines campuses will remain open and researchers and grad students will be able to access their labs.

"However, all members of the Brock community are encouraged to be mindful of health and well-being."

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