13-year-old Brampton, Ont. girl who died of COVID-19 passed away same day she was taken to hospital
TORONTO -- A 13-year-old girl from Brampton has become one of the youngest people in Ontario to die of COVID-19.
Mayor Patrick Brown confirmed the death of Emily Victoria Viegas on Sunday evening, tweeting his condolences to the family.
"This is beyond heart wrenching. As a parent, I am lost for words. Horrifying," Brown said on social media.
Speaking to CP24 on Monday morning, Brown added that the family was “well regarded” in Brampton and enjoyed ball hockey.
“Words don’t describe this type of loss. So needless, so preventable,” he said. “When you think about a loss like this, it stings. It stings not just the family, the neighbour, the friends, classmates, the hospital, staff and health-care workers—imagine trying to resuscitate a 13-year-old, it’s just beyond your worst nightmare.”
The girl’s father was an essential worker at a warehouse, the mayor said.
Health-care workers at William Osler Health System held a news conference on Monday afternoon, saying that Viegas died on the same day she was admitted to Brampton Civic Hospital on Thursday.
“We extend our deepest condolences to her family and our thoughts are with them at this incredibly difficult time,” said Dr. Andrew Healey, chief of emergency services and an emergency and critical care doctor. “This loss is tragic and our team is extremely affected by this.”
Healey urged people of all ages in Ontario who experience dangerous symptoms associated with COVID-19, including shortness of breath, an unusual fever, chest pain or a persistent rash, to report to hospital immediately.
“I don't think there are any hospitals that don't have capacity to treat you,” he said. “Shortness of breath is an alarming feature of COVID-19 and if you are short of breath, you should come to hospital.”
The emergency doctor said he would not provide details on whether or not the 13-year-old girl had any pre-existing conditions that made it more difficult for her to battle COVID-19.
He did clarify, however, that while people with pre-existing conditions are at more risk of developing complications associated with COVID-19, many people in Ontario’s intensive care units do not have these conditions.
“The fact that you have none does not protect you,” Healey said. “In the last 24 hour, I have admitted five people to the intensive care unit, three of whom have had no past medical history whatsoever or pre-existing medical conditions.”
He said as the case numbers grow, it is expected that complications and deaths associated with COVID-19 will affect all age groups.
“Complications from COVID-19 acutely and certainly deaths from COVID-19 in younger patients, particularly children, are certainly exceedingly uncommon,” he said. “But when the number of cases are growing, and the number of cases exist are large, we are going to see events in all age groups.”
“At this time in the pandemic, it's challenging for everyone at every age.”
The Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board (DPCDSB) said on Sunday that one of their students had died, but did not release any further information about their identity or cause of death.
"This is a loss to the entire DPCDSB community. At this time, we are focusing on supporting staff and students and respecting the privacy of the grieving family," the board said in a statement.
Peel Region has often been listed as one of the municipalities with the largest daily COVID-19 case counts in Ontario, second only to Toronto.
Health experts, as well as local politicians, attribute the large number of infections and hospitalizations to the fact that many essential workers live in the region, especially in Brampton.
As of Sunday, the city's test positivity rate stood at 22.2 per cent.
In total, 7,911 people have died in Ontario after contracting COVID-19. On Sunday, one additional death in a person under the age of 19 was noted, bringing the total number of people in that age group to die from COVID-19 to three.
A moment of silence was held at the Ontario legislature late Monday morning for the 13-year-old.
In a statement released earlier in the day, Premier Doug Ford said that his " heart absolutely breaks for this family."
“I can’t imagine the unbearable pain and sorrow they are feeling right now," he said in a statement. "It’s heart-wrenching and a devastating reminder of what this virus can do. On behalf of all Ontarians, I’m sending my deepest condolences to everyone who is suffering from the terrible loss of this young life.”
With files from Bryann Aguilar