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Coronavirus: Simcoe County, Ont. declares COVID-19 emergency

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WATCH: On the same day Ontario has its first potential coronavirus-related death, Premier Doug Ford has declared a state of emergency in the province. Erica Vella has details – Mar 17, 2020

Simcoe County Warden George Cornell declared an emergency on Wednesday afternoon as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Local officials say an emergency declaration allows the county additional resources to protect the health and safety of residents and businesses.

READ MORE: 25 new coronavirus cases confirmed in Ontario, total active cases at 208

​​”The County of Simcoe is taking the important step of declaring an emergency through the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act,” Cornell said in a statement

“Recognizing these extraordinary circumstances, we need to ensure we can use all available resources to protect the health and well-being of our residents.”

County officials are reminding residents to avoid gatherings and to practice social distancing.

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“Wash your hands for 15 to 20 seconds with soap and sanitize,” officials say. “If you have any symptoms, self-monitor and self-isolate and contact a healthcare professional if symptoms persist.”

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People who have travelled outside of Canada recently should self-isolate for 14 days, officials add.

READ MORE: First potential coronavirus-related death reported in Ontario

“The County of Simcoe strongly reminds our residents that the risks of COVID-19 are very real and in our region,” officials say.

“It is paramount that residents undertake all public health recommendations and the directions of our health care facilities and assessment centres to not exceed the capacity of our local health-care system.”

A full list of closures and cancellations in Simcoe County due to COVID-19 can be found here.

Simcoe County’s declaration comes one day after Ontario Premier Doug Ford declared a state of emergency in the province due to COVID-19. Tiny Township, Ont. also declared a state of emergency on Tuesday.

There have been five confirmed cases of COVID-19 under the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit’s jurisdiction.

On Tuesday, health officials reported the first potential death related to COVID-19 in Ontario, a 77-year-old Barrie man who passed away at the Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre on March 11 after coming in close contact with another individual who was confirmed to have the virus.

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As of Wednesday evening, there are 208 active COVID-19 cases in Ontario. There have been more than 600 confirmed cases in Canada.

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Coronavirus outbreak: Public health officials say Ontarians taking COVID-19 outbreak ‘seriously’ – Mar 18, 2020