A man in his 70s who was being treated at the Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre (RVH) in Barrie, Ont., for COVID-19 has died, raising the provincial death toll to three.
The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) said this man was the region's third case of COVID-19 under investigation by the health unit, and was a close contact of another man with COVID-19 who died at RVH on March 11.
"This is sad news and we are offering our condolences to the family," Dr. Charles Gardner, SMDHU's medical officer of health said in a statement on Saturday.
"It speaks to the need to be more aware of the seriousness of the current situation than ever and that we, as a community, as organizations and as individuals, need to work together to protect one another.
"I am urging everyone to follow social distancing recommendations and follow public health measures so that we can flatten the curve of this disease," Gardner added.
Janice Skot, RVH president and CEO, in extending condolences to the family of the deceased patient, said "his death is a tragedy and underscores the seriousness of this pandemic."
Skot is assuring the public that the men did not become infected at the hospital.
"The two men are family members and they were in close contact for an extended period of time in the community," she told CBC News.
"RVH is well prepared for a pandemic such as COVID-19. All measures are in place to protect the community, the patients entrusted to us, but as well, the team at RVH whose mission is to care for our patients."
Skot is also assuring the community that the hospital is following all directives from the Ontario Medical Officer of Health and from the Ministry of Health
The news came as Ontario Premier Doug Ford appealed to the province's manufacturing sector to help produce key medical supplies.
Ford says there are shortages of many items needed by health care workers because of global demand created by COVID-19.
The premier says any company that can produce items like ventilators, face masks, surgical gowns, protective eye-wear and hand sanitizers should reach out to the government.
Health officials say there are now nine cases of COVID-19 in Simcoe Muskoka.
The most recent case is a Bradford West Gwillimbury woman in her late 30s.
The woman is in serious condition and, while the investigation is ongoing, this appears to be a community acquired infection, officials say.
59 news cases in Ontario on Saturday
Earlier on Saturday Ontario health ministry reported 59 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the provincial total to 377.
One new case has been resolved, the ministry said on its special COVID-19 website. Previously, it reported that two patients in the province have died.
A total of 7,239 cases are under investigation. The ministry says 15,768 people have tested negative for the virus.