Toronto

What we know about Ontario's 2nd COVID-19-related death

Health officials in Halton say a man in his 50s is dead and that COVID-19 may have have been a factor.

Man in his 50s had underlying health condition, Halton officials say

This electron microscope image shows the virus that causes COVID-19. Officials in Halton reported a COVID-19-linked death on Thursday. (NIAID-RML/The Associated Press)

Health officials in Halton say a man in his 50s is dead, and that they believe his death was caused by COVID-19.

More concerning, is that the man, who has not been identified, didn't travel outside of Canada recently or have close contact with any person known to have COVID-19, they say. 

"The indication is that there is local transmission," said Dr. Hamidah Meghani, Halton Region's Medical Officer of Health in a press conference.

This is the tragic proof that we need to work together as a community to help stop the spread of COVID-19.- Dr. Hamidah Meghani, Haltion Region Medical Officer of Health

The man did have an underlying health condition, officials said. Before his death, the man sought treatment at Milton District Hospital on March 11, then transferred to Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital on March 18 and died on the same day.

Officials said they are still gathering information and determining a course of action about whether health care professionals exposed to the man should be put into self-isolation.

"We want to reassure our communities that all of our infection, prevention and control policies and procedures were followed during this patient's stay," said Dr. Neil Rau, Halton Healthcare's medical director of infection prevention and control.

The official number of provincial COVID-19 cases in Ontario is 257. So far, just one person, a Barrie man in his 70s, has died amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

Ontario coroner will investigate

Health Minister Christine Elliott said the province's coroner will investigate to confirm whether it was COVID-19 that killed the man or something else, something that can take time to determine.

"We're still waiting for confirmation from the coroner's office with the respect to the first person who passed. I don't have any comments with respect to a second person at this point," Elliott said.

Halton officials are urging people to continue to take steps to guard against the virus. 

"This is the tragic proof that we need to work together as a community to help stop the spread of COVID-19 by practicing social distancing and taking action to protect yourself and those around you," said Meghani.

For more details about the Halton death, you can watch the news conference in the video below:

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