Ontario's Health Minister Christine Elliot announced a new development in the province's struggle against the COVID-19 pandemic in Ontario on Tuesday afternoon. Elliot confirmed in a video on Twitter that a man who had COVID-19 in his system has now passed away in the Muskoka region. However, it is uncertain at the moment whether the virus or an underlying illness was the official cause of death.

Elliot confirmed to Momin Qureshi from 680 News on Tuesday, March 17, 2020, that a 77-year-old man who died in the Muskoka area had the coronavirus in his system when he passed away.

The Health Minister states that this man had been in close contact with another resident who had tested positive for the virus.  

680 News reported that the man had been suffering from pre-existing health issues. An autopsy will be conducted to confirm if the virus was the cause of his death.

"There has been a death. I'm very sorry and extend my condolences to this person's family. However, what we determined post-death is that he did test positive for COVID-19," Health Minister Christine Elliott told CP24 on Tuesday.

"We have asked for the assistance of the coroner's office to do a complete examination and investigation to determine whether this person died because of COVID or with COVID," she added.

One point that Elliot makes clear is that they are still trying to decide if the man passed away because of COVID-19 or with COVID-19. "That's a really important distinction," she states.

When asked about the difference between the two, Elliot states, "This person had other physical problems that may have caused the death, we just don't know yet."

While this may be the first death being investigated in Ontario, other parts of Canada have already seen deaths related to the virus. 

On March 9, Canada's first COVID-19 death was reported after a man in North Vancouver passed away in a nursing home. 

According to the Government of Ontario, as of Tuesday, there have been 180 positive cases of the virus across the province. 

Premier Doug Ford declared a state of emergency in Ontario on Tuesday in a move to prevent the spread of the virus. The new order will shut down organized public events over 50 people, including places of worship.

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