First COVID-19 death in Renfrew County


The Renfrew County and District Health Unit (RCDHU) has confirmed the region’s first death related to the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19).

In an announcement Sunday morning, the health unit said a woman in her 90s passed away early on the morning of March 29, 2020, at Pembroke Regional Hospital.

“We extend our sincere condolences to the family and friends of the individual who died today,” stated Dr. Robert Cushman, acting medical officer of health.

“I am asking everyone again to make every effort possible to ensure the safety of the community by practicing physical distancing and staying home.”

The health unit announced the first “laboratory-confirmed” case of COVID-19 late Wednesday, March 25, saying a woman in her 90s had developed symptoms and was tested by Pembroke Regional Hospital (PRH), where she was an inpatient on isolation.

The health unit said the individual was a resident of a local retirement home and had no recent history of travel.

“We know that confirmed cases represent only a fraction of disease activity in the community. For every one confirmed case there are probably 10 cases out in the community and quite possibly 100,” Cushman said at the time.

“The message is clear. COVID-19 is in Eastern Ontario and in Renfrew County.”

The health unit is once again urging area residents to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 by practising physical distancing which includes:

  • Avoiding non-essential trips in the community.
  • If you have to go into the community for an essential trip via taxi or rideshare, be sure to keep the windows down.
  • Avoiding visits to long-term care homes, retirement homes, supportive housing, hospitals, hospices and other congregate care settings unless the visit is essential.
  • Talk to your supervisor, manager, or employer about the possibility of working from home.
  • If you have meetings planned, consider doing them virtually instead of in person.
  • Individuals should stay home unless necessary.
  • If you spend time outside maintain a 2-metre distance from other people.

Additionally, the health unit urges everyone to practice the following measures to reduce the spread of germs including the novel coronavirus (COVID-19):

  • Clean your hands frequently with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then clean your hands.
  • If you don’t have a tissue, sneeze or cough into your sleeve and then clean your hands.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, unless you have just cleaned your hands.
  • If you are ill, stay home.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • Get your flu shot.

The health unit says that if you think you may have COVID-19 symptoms or have been in close contact with someone who has it, first self-isolate and then use Ontario’s Self-Assessment Tool to see if you need to seek further care.

For further assistance, call Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-000, or Renfrew County Virtual Triages Assessment Centre at 1-844-727-6406 or your health care provider. You can also call RCDHU at 613-735-8654.