TORONTO -- A grocery store worker who died after contracting the novel coronavirus fought until "his last breath" but could not be saved, his wife says.

Keith Saunders, who worked at a Real Canadian Superstore on Gibb Street in Oshawa, Ont., died on Wednesday night. Saunders, who was in his late 40s, is the youngest person to die of the virus in Ontario and is the province's 15th death.


Health officials said he had no underlying health conditions. 

"My sweet gentle giant husband Keith Saunders passed away last night," his wife, Katy Saunders, wrote on Facebook Thursday. "I lost my soulmate and angel. But he's now a real angel watching down on me."

"You fought till your last breath. We will be together again soon."

Keith, who was a manager at the grocery store, became sick earlier this month and was admitted to hospital. He was eventually transferred to the intensive care unit where he died, his wife says.

Public health officials said he had no previous travel history that would explain how he contracted the virus.

"He wore his heart on his sleeve," Katy wrote. "(He) was extremely dedicated to his job and coworkers. But never was too busy to help anyone and everyone."

The company sent an e-mail to customers earlier this week saying an employee tested positive for COVID-19 and the store would be cleaned. 


"At this time, health authorities continue to assure us that the risk of grocery shopping is low, but we must all take care," the store said.

"We're counting on you to help by giving our colleagues and each other lots of space."

Case counts climbs in Ontario

More than 990 people have tested positive for the virus in Ontario. Eighteen people with the virus have died.

Symptoms of the virus, which can include fever, cough and shortness of breath, are similar to other respiratory infections.

There are no specific treatments for the virus and there is no vaccine that protects against it.

The Ontario government’s website advises those experiencing symptoms of the novel coronavirus to contact their primary health care provider or Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000.