WINDSOR, ONT. -- Windsor-Essex has its first confirmed case of COVID-19.

On Friday night, the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU) confirmed a man in his sixties has tested positive for the novel coronavirus after arriving back to the city following a trip on a Caribbean cruise.

According to the health unit, upon returning to Windsor on March 10, the man began the recommended 14-day isolation before he developed symptoms on March 11.

In a daily news briefing Saturday, Dr. Wajid Ahmed, Chief Medical Officer of Health for the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, said the health unit can confirm the first case does not indicate community spread of the virus in Windsor-Essex.

He said the man is “recovering fine” at home and credits the patient for self-isolating upon returning home from his trip.

“We feel confident in our processes,” he said, noting the man met the criteria for a high-risk patient.

“Because he followed all the right instructions, we still feel that the risk to our community is low because he met all those criteria and it could’ve been different.”

Ahmed said a “strong recommendation” for the closure of retail store-type businesses would become an order as of Monday, March 23.

“We’d like to put these strong measures in place to further reinforce social distancing and limit the spread of COVID-19 in our community,” he said.

The order will impact clothing, book and other apparel stores as well as day spas, nail salons and tattoo parlours until April 5.

"It could mean the closure of pretty much everything other than essential services," he said.

Officials say the patient was tested on March 16 at the Windsor Regional Hospital COVID-19 Assessment Centre.

The WECHU also noted the man was a close contact of a family member who tested positive for COVID-19 outside of the region.

WECHU is highlighting “the importance for all residents to follow public health recommendations” in light of the case officials have conceded would come.

The positive case in Windsor-Essex follows two confirmed cases in neighbouring Chatham-Kent on Wednesday. Bordering Detroit has 149 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as well as two deaths tied to the virus according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS). The total number of confirmed cases in Michigan stands at 549 with 3 deaths according to the daily update provided by the MDHHS.

On Friday, the City of Windsor declared a state of emergency and ordered both Devonshire Mall and Tecumseh Mall closed in anticipation of the return of March Break travellers.

In light of the influx of travellers, the WECHU is “strongly urging all residents to practice social distancing” along with avoiding crowds and close contact with anyone outside of immediate family.

“The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit is continuing to investigate and monitor all individuals who are at risk of exposure,” said Dr. Wajid Ahmed, the medical officer of health for Windsor-Essex, in a WECHU statement.

“We continue to encourage residents to take appropriate preventative measures to ensure they stay healthy including regularly washing hands with soap and water, coughing or sneezing into tissue and handwashing, disinfecting and most importantly staying home if you are ill.”

Returning travellers are reminded to self-isolate for 14 days, not to go to work, and to monitor for symptoms. Those who suspect they may have COVID-19 are being directed to the self-assessment tool online provided by the Ontario government.

Further recommendations from the WECHU include:

• Contact the Windsor-Essex Public Health Unit at 519-258-2146 ext. 1420 if you have fever, cough, or breathing difficulty AND any of the following:

• You have travelled outside of Canada in the 14 days before onset of illness;


• Close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19; or

• Close contact with a person with acute respiratory illness who travelled to affected areas within the 14 days prior to their illness onset.

Dr. Wajid Ahmed as well as WECHU CEO, Theresa Marentette, are set to address reporters concerning the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Windsor-Essex at a news conference on Saturday morning.