Ontario teen who died of COVID-19 was refugee who worked as long-term care home cleaner

An Ontario teenager who worked as a cleaner at a long-term care home and died after being diagnosed with COVID-19 was a Syrian refugee who moved to Canada with his family in 2016, according to the CEO of Paramount Fine Foods, Mohamad Fakih.

Yassin Dabeh, 19, of London, Ont., worked at Middlesex Terrace, a long-term care home in nearby Delaware, Ont.

“The family had four boys and one daughter, and now they’ve lost Yassin,” said Fakih, a philanthropist and businessman, who spoke with Yassin’s father to offer his condolences.

“He said [Yassin] wanted to study, to do something more for his life, and he joined this company that does the cleaning for LTCs,” he explained.

Fakih said he offered to organize a fundraiser to cover the costs of a funeral for the young man but was told that it was already taken care of.

“[The father] was very emotional about it. He told me how the community came together for the funeral costs and how he’s very appreciative of how the community is coming together to help them.”

Youngest in the region with COVID-19 to die

In an interview with CBC News on Saturday, Dr. Alex Summers, the Middlesex-London Health Unit’s associate medical officer of health, said the teen is the youngest person in the region diagnosed with the virus to die.

“It’s certainly a very sad day and a reminder of how the impact of this pandemic can be felt,” he said.

Summers said the diagnosis came within the last four weeks, and Dabeh’s infectious period had actually ended. An investigation into his death is underway he said. 

He could not say whether the teen had underlying health conditions. 

Summers did say, however, that Dabeh was not working at the long-term care home when he was infectious.

Mary Raitby, CEO of APANS Health Services, the parent company of Middlesex Terrace, said in a statement that “we extend our deep sympathies to the family and friends of Yassin Dabeh.”

“Out of respect for their loss, we are declining to make any comments at this time.”

Fakih said a funeral is being planned in the next couple of days. He also said the entire family has also been diagnosed with the coronavirus “because of the son coming back home every time after work.”

Fakih, who was born in Lebanon and now lives in Toronto, said he and some friends are cooking 500 meals to give out to those in need in their community. They’ve decided to hold the event in Yassin’s honour, he said.

“It’s an Islamic tradition when somebody dies. It’s good to do food and gifts for people in need. We believe that helps in the blessing of their soul.”

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