Toronto, and York Region recorded their first deaths related to COVID-19 on Sunday, Public Health officials said.
The Toronto man and the woman from York Region were both in their 70s. They both died on Saturday.
The man had travelled to the United Kingdom. On his return, he was tested at a hospital in Toronto and immediately began self-isolation at home, according to a City of Toronto press release.
The man was reported to Toronto Public Health by the hospital and a case investigation was completed.
He later presented at the Trillium Health Partners, a Mississauga Hospital on March 14 and died on Saturday, March 21.
‘Today is a very sad day,’ Dr. Eileen de Villa says
“Today is a very sad day for us and especially the family and loved ones of the man who passed away,” said Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa.
“We extend our sincere condolences to the family and friends of the individual who died this weekend. I’m asking everyone again to make every effort and take every opportunity to practice social distancing.
“Please stay home, stay safe and take care of each other,” de Villa added.
‘A tragic reminder that we are confronting a deadly virus,’ mayor says
Meanwhile, Toronto Mayor John Tory says this first death of a Toronto resident related to COVID-19 is “a tragic reminder that we are confronting a deadly virus.”
“I know the entire city will be saddened to learn this news and joins me in sending condolences to the loved ones of the Toronto man who has died,” Tory said in a statement.
Tory has been in self-isolation since March 13, days after returning to Toronto from a trade mission in Britain.
He said the death of the Toronto resident is yet another reminder why it is so important that everyone continues to do everything they can to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“The advice from Toronto Public Health is simple: work from home where possible, stay home except to get essential supplies, and maintain social distance by keeping at least two metres (6 feet) from others,” Tory said.
7 newly-confirmed cases in York Region
The death in York Region is that of a Markham resident who returned from international travel on Saturday, and died shortly thereafter.
“York Region extends deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of the individual,” said Dr. Karim Kurji, Medical Officer of Health.
“This case speaks to the seriousness of the current situation and how as a community we need to continue working together to protect one another.”
York Region also reported seven newly-confirmed cases of COVID-19 earlier Sunday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in that region to 44.
48 new cases of COVID-19 in Ontario Sunday
On Sunday Ontario reported 48 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the provincial total to 425.
Eight of those cases have been resolved, according to Ontario’s health ministry on its special COVID-19 website.
Five people have now died in cases related to the novel coronavirus in the province.
One of the new confirmed cases involves a man in his 30s in Toronto. Under the kind of transmission, the ministry says “pending.”
There are cases involving a man in his 70s in Peel region, a man in his 50s in Hamilton, two women in their 20s in Ottawa and Waterloo respectively, and a man in his 30s in Eastern Ontario.
There is little information listed about the majority of cases.
The province has tested 26,419 people for the virus and 8,361 people are under investigation. A total of 17,634 people have tested negative for COVID-19.
Ontario gives hospitals new powers to redeploy staff
In other developments, the Ontario government is using its state of emergency declaration to give hospitals temporary new powers to respond to the pandemic.
These powers enable hospitals to redeploy staff between locations, to different areas within hospitals and to COVID-19 assessment centres without notice. Hospitals are now able to change work assignments and schedules, cancel vacations and let volunteers do “bargaining work.”
Under what the government calls a “temporary order,” hospitals would be able to override collective agreements when they redeploy staff and that power includes superseding provisions governing such things as layoffs, seniority and service and bumping.
“This temporary order would give hospitals the ability to cancel and postpone services to free-up space and valuable staff, identify staffing priorities, and develop, modify and implement redeployment plans,” the government said.
The government said hospitals can do the following as they try to “prevent and alleviate” the spread of COVID-19:
- Redeploying staff within different locations in (or between) facilities of the hospital.
- Redeploying staff to work in COVID-19 assessment centres.
- Changing the assignment of work, including assigning non-bargaining unit employees or contractors to perform bargaining unit work.
- Changing the scheduling of work or shift assignments.
- Deferring or cancelling vacations, absences or other leaves, regardless of whether such vacations, absences or leaves are established by statute, regulation, agreement or otherwise.
- Employing extra part-time workers, or temporary staff, or contractors, including for the purpose of performing bargaining unit work.
- Using volunteers to perform work, including to perform bargaining work.
- Providing appropriate training or education as needed to staff and volunteers to achieve the purposes of a redeployment plan.
“When utilized by hospitals, these redeployment plans temporarily supersede the provisions of a collective agreement, including lay-off, seniority/service or bumping provisions,” the government said in the statement.
“For example, currently a hospital would be required to post a lay-off notice and wait a period of time before being able to move a nurse or other unionized employee from an emergency department to a COVID-19 assessment centre,” the government added.
“These measures would allow for the redeployment of staff to address the containment of COVID-19 without restriction or delay.”
This time-limited order is valid for 14 days unless revoked or renewed in accordance with the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.
Ontario allows some child-care centres to reopen
As well, Ontario is allowing some child-care centres to reopen to help healthcare and frontline workers during the outbreak.
Doctors, nurses, paramedics, firefighters, police, and correctional officers are among those who can access the emergency child care, the government said in a statement on Sunday.
People who do work “essential to the delivery of core services in a municipality,” will also be able to access child care, “as determined by the municipality.”
The province ordered all licensed child-care centres to close as part of the state of emergency declared last week.
Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce said the province would keep a low number of children in each centre.
The centres will have to follow health and safety requirements and have a plan in place should any staff, children or parents be exposed to COVID-19, Lecce said.
People who are eligible are those who do “work of a critical nature in their service area or community,” as determined by the education minister or his delegate in consultation with the relevant system manager or First Nation, he added.
Realtors urged to stop holding open houses
As officials continue to track the numbers of confirmed cases in the province, the outbreak is continuing to affect the economy.
On Saturday, the Ontario Real Estate Association called on all realtors to stop holding open houses during the province’s battle with COVID-19.
The association is asking realtors to encourage their clients to organize virtual tours instead.
It says modern realtors have access to video teleconferencing and digital signings to go through the home-selling process, which could help curb the spread of the virus.