York Region’s medical officer of health says a 72-year-old Markham woman is the first person in the area to die from COVID-19 since the coronavirus outbreak began.
Dr. Karim Kurji said in an update Sunday afternoon that the woman returned from international travel on Saturday and died a short time later. He said she collapsed at her son’s home in Toronto hours after returning from Los Angeles. She had previously visited France and Tahiti.
“We don’t know where she would have acquired the infection from, but apparently she was received at the airport by her son and her daughter-in-law,” Kurji said.
Kurji said the woman’s symptoms may have been missed during health screening during travel and at the airport.
“From what I can judge, her symptoms seemed to have included shortness of breath and a cough and may have included something further,” he said.
“Sometimes individuals escape detection. I think the last modelling study that I saw from the London School of Hygiene seemed to suggest that about 42 per cent of individuals who may be infectious tend to get through these screening measures.”
The woman’s son and her daughter-in-law are now in self-isolation.
“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,” Kurji said in a statement while extending condolences to the woman’s family.
“We now cannot rule out local transmission in York Region. These unfortunate signals are indications of progression of the virus in our community.”
Meanwhile, the Markhaven Home for Seniors in Markham has declared an outbreak. The region previously reported there was a confirmed case, but Kurji said additional tests have come back negative and the outbreak designation might be removed in the future.
Kurji urged residents to practice measures such as physical and social distancing to “break the chains of transmission,” noting the virus is spread by droplets.
“Together we can get through this difficult time,” he said, adding
As of Sunday, there were 44 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in York Region. Across Ontario, there were a total of 425 confirmed COVID-19 cases as of Sunday afternoon.
Before the announcement by York Region Sunday afternoon, the province said there were three deaths connected to COVID-19. Toronto Public Health also reported Sunday afternoon that a Toronto man died from COVID-19.
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