Man in his 90s is Ottawa's first death linked to COVID-19

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The City of Ottawa is reporting the first death in the community linked to COVID-19.

Ottawa Public Health says a man in his 90s died at the Ottawa Hospital on Wednesday, five days after he was admitted with a fever.

The man was living at home, and had no travel history. Public Health says the man developed a fever on March 15, and was admitted to hospital on March 20.

No other details about the man will be released.

In a statement, Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches says “we extend our sincere condolences to the family and friends of the individual who died today.”

“I’m asking everyone again to make every effort and take every opportunity to practice physical (social) distancing. Please stay home, stay safe and take care of each other.”

Mayor Jim Watson also extended condolences to the family of the resident who passed away on Wednesday.

“Although most residents are making efforts to flatten the curve, this serves as a sad reminder to us all of the severity of the situation we are facing,” said Watson, in a statement.

“I encourage residents to continue to wash their hands regularly, to respect social distancing guidelines, limit trips outside the house to essential ones, and to check in virtually on family, friends and neighbours. We must all do our part to help save lives in our community.”

As of 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Ottawa Public Health was investigating 43 confirmed or indeterminate COVID-19 cases in Ottawa. The Ministry of Health has reported 27 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa. 

The health unit says staff are “actively following up with these individuals and their close contacts.”

Dr.  Etches told reporters over the weekend that Ottawa Public Health had laboratory confirmation of the community spread of COVID-19, and urged everyone to practice physical distancing.

Speaking on Newstalk 580 CFRA's The Morning Rush with Bill Carroll, Dr. Etches said it's important to remember each case of the virus is a person, with a family and friends.

"When you have an unfortunate death, it shows you this is someone whose family has lost a loved one, whose friends are grieving. It's real people, not just numbers," she said.