Article content continued
Provincial statistics only point to one more death of anyone under the age of 20 since the pandemic began. A boy under 10 died in Winnipeg in November, possibly the youngest death in Canada.
So far, the death of the beloved Belmont father Martin Haalstra (44) at the end of 2020 has been considered the most recent COVID death in the London area.
“It’s been a tough day for us and on our front lines,” said Summers.
As numbing as the statistics have become, the death of a young person was a shocking reminder that the virus is circulating in the community and can be fatal even at a younger age.
“It’s certainly not that common, but it can happen,” Summers said, adding that they are learning more about “long-distance drivers” – those who have survived COVID-19 but have persistent and sometimes confusing symptoms.
The teenager’s death came amid some optimistic signs that the spread of the virus may be easing.
The health unit reported 50 new cases on Saturday. A week ago, on January 16, there were 117 new cases. There were 128 new cases on January 9th.
However, Summers noted that 50 new cases are nearly double the first wave’s daily report last spring.
“We’re starting to see how effective these efforts are at being at home and physically distancing ourselves, but we still have a long way to go,” said Summers.
With the vaccine on the way and the warm weather in a few months, Summers said there is a lot to be optimistic about. In the meantime, simple public health protocol experts who have been preaching for months must be followed.
In the teen’s case, this is a reminder of the risks faced by healthcare workers in hospitals and community housing, Summers said. “These people are heroes, they are absolute heroes.”