Toronto

Teenage COVID-19 patient who worked at Ontario long-term care home has died, health unit says

A teenage COVID-19 patient who worked at an Ontario long-term care home has died, the Middlesex-London public health unit said Saturday.

Person is youngest COVID-19 patient in Middlesex-London health region

A teenage COVID-19 patient who worked at an Ontario long-term care home has died, the Middlesex-London public health unit said Saturday.

Dan Flaherty, spokesperson for the Middlesex-London Health Unit, said one of the three deaths it reported on its website Saturday is a staff person. The other two people who died, a man in his 60s and a woman in her 80s, were also associated with long-term care homes.

The teen is the youngest COVID-19 patient in the region to have died. The teen's age and workplace have not been released.

"We are not able to provide any other information including the individual's exact age or the facility where they worked, as this could risk identifying them," Flaherty said in an email.

Dr. Alex Summers, associate medical officer of health for the Middlesex-London Health Unit, told CBC News Network's Natasha Fatah that the young man was recently diagnosed with COVID-19 and was a staff member at a long-term care home.

The diagnosis came within the last four weeks and his infectious period had actually ended, Summers said. An investigation is underway into the death, he said.

Summers called it a "tragic young death" in the region. "It's certainly a very sad day and a reminder of how the impact of this pandemic can be felt," he said.

"This is the youngest person who had been diagnosed with COVID who has died since the beginning of the pandemic for us in our region."

'It's a tragic day,' health official says

Summers could not say if the young man had underlying health conditions. The investigation is looking into that, he added. 

Summers previously said the teen was not working at a long-term care home while infectious, but the health unit now says the teen did work at the home for a short period of time, early on in the infectious period, before going into isolation.

He said the health unit believes some members of his immediate household may end up testing positive for the virus.

"COVID-19 transmits very readily among households," he said.

Summers said the anticipated spread to his family is "just another reminder of how infectious this disease certainly can be." Members of the health unit have spoken to the young man's family, he said.

"It's a tragic day," he said. "I think there is a sense of sorrow among us today."

In an email to CBC Toronto, Ontario's long term care ministry confirmed the death of a long-term care home worker but provided no other details.

"We extend our deepest condolences to their family, friends and colleagues," Rob McMahon, spokesperson for the ministry, said in an email on Saturday.

"Due to sensitivities and requirements for protection of privacy for Ontarians, and for protecting Ontarians' confidential personal and health information, we cannot comment on individual cases," McMahon added.

"We are grateful for the hard work and dedication of all long-term care staff working under challenging conditions to care for our most vulnerable during the pandemic."

Clarifications

  • A previous version of this story said the teenager died of COVID-19. It has been updated to say he died with COVID-19, as health officials were not able to perform an autopsy to determine if the novel coronavirus was the primary cause his death.
    Jan 26, 2021 9:01 PM ET

With files from Muriel Draaisma and Natasha Fatah

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