The family of a 51-year-old Milton man who died from COVID-19 is remembering the father-of-three and musician as someone who was vibrant and caring.
“He’s one of those good guys that you love to be around. He was super friendly, super outgoing, loving, caring – just one of the good ones,” Linda Watson, who is cousins with Sean Cunnington’s wife, told Global News Thursday evening.
Cunnington’s death was announced by Halton Region Public Health on Thursday. The department said he was admitted as a patient at Milton District Hospital on March 11. He was transferred to Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital on March 18 and died after arriving early in the day.
“This is not someone who was perfectly healthy, but someone who was still with a good quality of life prior to his death,” Dr. Neil Rau, an infectious disease specialist with Halton Healthcare, told reporters Thursday afternoon.
Dr. Hamidah Meghani, the medical officer of health for the Region of Halton, said it’s believed Cunnington’s case is one of “local transmission” since he didn’t recently travel outside of Canada.
“What we see now is that at the moment, we know that he did not travel outside of Canada, nor does he have a link to a known COVID-19 case, and thus the indication is that there is local transmission,” Meghani said.
“We only received this information late last night. My staff are working very hard to look through, to get some more information and determine who needs to be self-isolated in the community.”
Watson said Cunnington was relatively healthy after being diagnosed with leukemia three years ago. She said he began feeling “crumby” on around March 4.
After dealing with the symptoms for a few days, Watson said he went to the hospital in Milton where he was diagnosed with pneumonia. She said he was given a prescription and sent home, adding he return to hospital not too long after.
“Everything happened really fast after that,” she said, noting he didn’t get a COVID-19 test until a few days before his death.
As for how he contracted COVID-19, Watson said they aren’t sure.
“It’s really scary because anybody that has anybody in their life that has compromised health or is old … the thought of people like that getting exposed to this is really frightening,” she said.
Watson said Cunnington’s death shows more needs to be done to tackle the COVID-19 outbreak.
“Stay home, stay away from people, practice the social distancing, all of that,” she said.
“This is a perfect example of somebody who was in the prime of their life and he’s gone.”
Meanwhile, the province announced on Thursday two more new cases connected to travel came from Halton region.
The government said a man in his 50s, who travelled to the U.S. and San Juan, and a woman in her 50s, connected to travel to and from Spain and Finland, tested positive for COVID-19. Officials said both people are in self-isolation.
Halton Region is reporting 10 positive tests since the new year.
The death is the second in Ontario, with the first being a 77-year-old man from Muskoka who was a patient at the Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre in Barrie.
The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit said in that case, the patient also had pre-existing health conditions.
The province on Thursday reported 251 confirmed positive tests since it began tracking earlier this year. A total of 3,972 are under investigation.
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Health officials say the risk is low for Canadians but warn this could change quickly. They caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are asked to self-isolate for 14 days in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others.
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. And if you get sick, stay at home.
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