COVID-19 Update: First possible virus-related death in Ontario; Premier declares emergency
A timeline of COVID-19 news in Canada on Tuesday, March 17.
Latest: A man in the Muskoka region died today and was found to be infected with the COVID-19 virus.
Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliot says the cause of death is not known currently and it is not clear if the virus caused the death.
“We determined post-death that he did test positive for COVID-19,” Elliot told CP24. “We have asked for the assistance of the coroner’s office to do a complete examination and investigation to determine whether this person died because of COVID or with COVID”
A spokesperson for the health minister said the 77-year-old man was in close contact with a person who tested positive for the virus.
This comes after Premier Doug Ford declared a provincial state of emergency in response to the COVID-19 crisis and ordered restaurants and bars to only provide takeout services.
“It’s an unprecedented time in history,” said Ford. “We must take any and all action necessary.” The premier even said he could use police officers to shut down non-compliant businesses.
This news comes after Ontario announced another eight cases, bringing the total to 185 with five recovered cases.
Ford also said he would be investing $304 million in response to the pandemic. $100 million for increasing hospital capacities, $50 million for increased testing and tracing and another $50 million to increase medical supplies.
The Premier said the money will also add 75 more critical beds to hospitals and 500 new post-acute care beds. As well as 25 more COVID-19 assessment centres for 31 in the entire province.
“Right now we have to do everything possible to slow the spread of COVID-19 in order to avoid overwhelming our healthcare system,” said Ford.
11:39 a.m: “Pretty much anything with a door will be closed,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau this morning in reference to closing down federal parks.
Trudeau said he would be closing all facilities Parks Canada tomorrow. He also wanted to credit Ontario for taking the right steps in declaring a health care emergency.
Trudeau also said financial support is on the way for Canadians as there is no way of knowing how long this situation could last.
9:30 a.m.: Gas prices are hitting a 15-year low.
It is expected today that gas will drop to 77 cents. The last time gas was this price was in 2004 when the average was 76.6 cents a litre.
Prices may continue to drop further due to COVID-19 concerns.
7:30 a.m.: Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce announced they would be changing some branch hours and temporarily closing others to combat COVID-19 spread.
816 of the CIBC locations will be operating under modified hours but will remain open. Another 206 will be closed for the time being.
The bank says employees will continue to receive full pay if affected by the changes.
Yesterday: Toronto’s medical officer of health asks bars and restaurants to close. Only provide takeout and delivery to customers.
Dr. Eileen de Villa had the difficult task of telling these businesses to close no later than Tuesday, St. Patrick’s Day.
In an effort to keep business open, she did suggest to just offer take-out or delivery to customers.
This comes a day after Ontario’s chief medical officer of Health recommended gatherings be limited to 50 people or less.
Yesterday: Shoppers Drug Mart announced they would be dedicating the first hour of business to customers who require assistance or consideration.
This will include individuals with disabilities or underlying health conditions.
Many Canadians have been panic buying and emptying stores of their essential items. This gives the individuals that are the most at risk, a better ability to avoid the virus and get what they need.
Shoppers said the seniors day discount of 20 per cent will also be used every day for the first hour of operations.
Yesterday: Cineplex movie theatres said they would be closing all 165 locations until April 2.
This comes after Cineplex took a nosedive in the stock market, trading at 6.4 points despite being at 30 just five days ago.
Other complexes owned by Cineplex, such as Playdium and Rec Room will also be closed for the time being.
NBC Universal announced yesterday they would be releasing new movies On-Demand now to combat the declining sales.
Yesterday: WestJet airlines announced they would be suspending several of their flights due to the COVID-19 virus.
The cut back will see all of their international and transborder flights grounded for at least 30 days.
As of last night, tickets could no longer be sold past the March 22 cut off.
Westjet also reduced their domestic flight prices by 50 per cent in an effort to help family members get back to their loved ones.