London patient 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. 

London Health Sciences Centre also reported 4 people in critical care units Saturday

The London Health Sciences Centre said Saturday there are 4 people in critical care units. (Submitted by Dr. Trevor Jain)

A London patient 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, died Friday night. It's the first death in the Middlesex-London region since the pandemic was declared.

The man had recently returned from a trip to Portugal when he was admitted to the London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) and tested positive for COVID-19 on March 19. 

"We are deeply saddened to learn of this man's passing and extend our sincere condolences to his family and friends. We are asking everyone to recognize the seriousness of this virus and how important it is to limit its spread," Dr. Chris Mackie, the medical officer of health of the Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU), said in a statement.

The man's wife, who also tested positive for the virus, is currently hospitalized, Dr. Mackie said. Other close contacts have been in self-isolation since the man's diagnosis and they continue to be monitored, he added.

In a statement, the LHSC said the team who took care of the man followed infection control protocols and practices throughout his treatment, including patient isolation and the use of personal protective equipment.

Two new cases of the virus were also reported by the MLHU 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. 

The health unit is urging people to practice physical distancing, limit any contact with others and only go out to buy supplies when necessary. 

"What we do right now will affect how the local situation develops over the coming days and weeks," Dr. Mackie said. 

New cases in Huron-Perth

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

Dr. Miriam Klassen, the medical officer of health with Huron Perth Public Health, said the health-care worker is a woman in her 40s from St. Marys who works at the Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance and had no travel history or known contact with any confirmed case. 

"If we do determine that she was working when she was capable of transmitting the virus, then we will be contacting people directly that are close contacts and taking whatever steps are necessary to communicate with people that may have been exposed," she added.  

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.

"We're not surprised to receive these three new cases," said Dr. Klassen. "The new cases confirm that we're now seeing local spread in our area, which is a similar pattern to what has been showing up around us in Ontario."

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.