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First COVID-19 death hits city

Remaining residents still in isolation

By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express

The City of Oshawa has seen its first death from COVID-19 after one of four residents at a long-term care home has died.

The individual, a woman in her 90s, was a resident at Hillsdale Terraces in Oshawa, and was recently confirmed positive for COVID-19. She died on March 23 after being transferred from Hillsdale Terraces to Lakeridge Health Oshawa.

“We extend our sincere condolences to this woman’s family and our thoughts are with them during this very sad time,” said Dr. Robert Kyle, Durham Region Medical Officer of Health. “It is truly unfortunate that this woman’s tragic passing underscores the need for us to work together as a community to help stop the spread of COVID-19. We need everyone’s help to protect those most vulnerable in our community and encourage all area residents to take the practice of social and physical distancing very seriously and take action to protect yourself and others in our community.”

After this death, the three remaining residents with COVID-19 continue to be isolated.

Originally a respiratory outbreak was declared at Hillsdale Terraces on Monday, March 16, according to a statement from Kyle.

At the time, outbreak control measures were put in place, and included:

  • Limiting visitors to the home, which is in keeping with the Ontario Ministry of Health directive of March 13.
  • Directing that staff assigned to these units only work in these units and are also advised not to work in other health care facilities.
  • Ensuring appropriate use of personal protective equipment.
  • Increasing environmental sanitation, cleaning and disinfection.
  • Ensuring staff assist residents with hand hygiene before meals.
  • Encouraging proper hand hygiene with all staff.
  • Maintaining daily contact with the home to provide additional public health support.

The region is continuing to urge residents to take every precaution to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health of the community, especially those who are most at risk.

Social and physical distancing, keeping at least two metres, or six feet away from others, is one of the best ways to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including COVID-19.

It is also strongly recommended that residents wash their hands often with soap and water or hand sanitizer even when hands are not visibly dirty, and cough or sneeze into your sleeve or elbow and encourage others to do the same.

It is also recommended residents wash their hands after handling nose and throat secretions (e.g. after throwing out used facial tissues), and avoid touching their faces altogether, or cleaning hands before touching the eyes, nose or mouth.

Surfaces need to be cleaned and disinfected often, especially those that are high-touch areas, and don’t share water bottles, straws, eating utensils, cigarettes, toothbrushes, toys or anything else that has been in contact with saliva, nose or throat secretions.

The Durham Health Department is asking for residents who are sick to stay at home and keep themselves away from others.

Residents should also avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.

Those who are ill and must visit a health care provider, call ahead or tell them right away upon arrival about the respiratory illness and wear a mask while waiting to be seen.

Those who are able, avoid all non-essential activity as recommended and declared by the province of Ontario.

Those who think they may have COVID-19 symptoms or have been in close contact with someone who has it, first, self-isolate and then use Ontario’s Self-Assessment Tool to see if there is a need to seek further care.

For further assistance, call TeleHealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000 or your health care provider, or call Durham Health Connection Line at 905-668-2020 or 1-800-841-2729.

Area residents are encouraged to get updated information on COVID-19 by regularly reviewing credible sources of information. A list of these sources can be found by visiting