Ontario declares state of emergency
UPDATED: Province reports first death linked to COVID-19 in 77-year-old man
TORONTO — Ontario health officials confirmed the province’s first death in a patient with COVID-19 on Tuesday, hours after Premier Doug Ford declared a state of emergency.
The 77-year-old man in the Muskoka region was a close contact of another positive case and wasn’t listed a confirmed case before he died, rather he was under investigation for the virus, said a spokesman for Health Minister Christine Elliott.
COVID-19 was discovered after his death, said Travis Kann.
The investigation into the exact cause of death is ongoing.
“We are facing an unprecedented time in our history,” said Ford in a press conference Tuesday morning. “This is a decision that was not made lightly. COVID-19 constitutes a danger of major proportions.”
“We are taking this extraordinary measure because we must offer our full support and every power possible to help our health care sector fight the spread of COVID-19. The health and well-being of every Ontarian must be our No. 1 priority.”
Ford says the order bans public events of over 50 people, including parades, events and services within places of worship until March 31.
Effective immediately, the province has ordered the closure of all facilities providing indoor recreation programs, all public libraries, all private schools, all licensed childcare centres, all theatres, cinemas and concert venues, and all bars and restaurants except to provide takeout food and delivery.
Ford says this is not a provincial shut down and the majority businesses won’t be affected by the order.
Essential services such as grocery stores will continue to operate.
This story has been updated.