A 13-year-old Toronto boy has died of the H1N1 virus, days after getting sick and only hours after developing a fever.
Toronto Public Health confirmed the death, and it will hold a news conference later today.
Evan Frustaglio, a Grade 8 student and aspiring hockey star, passed away in his sleep Sunday night, friends say. He'd first fallen ill late last week, and his parents took him to the doctor. "Doctor sent him home, said he'd be okay, said there'd been no fever," said Joel Robillos, a coach with the Mississauga Senators hockey club, and longtime friend of the family.
The Globe on H1N1
Evan's father coaches the atom level, a team on which Evan's younger brother plays.
Evan played at a hockey tournament on Saturday, but began vomiting that night. On Sunday his parents took him to a walk-in clinic where they were told the boy had a regular flu and instructed to continue treatment with Tylenol and Gravol.
"All I can tell people is just watch your children and if they don't seem right to you, don't hesitate to get medical attention," said Paul Frustaglio, Evan's father. "And if somebody says, Oh it's just the flu, that's not a good enough answer."
An anonymous caller to the CTV newsroom Sunday said a player from The Hill Academy, a Vaughan hockey school Evan attended, was sent home Friday with flu-like symptoms. It's unclear whether he was referring to Evan, or if there are others at the school who are ill.
But on Sunday night, Evan came down with a fever, Mr. Robillos said. He didn't wake up Monday morning.
"I guess what happened is they thought Evan was just sleeping in. Didn't wake up for school, so they let him rest. And he didn't get up. They called 911, but he didn't make it," Mr. Robillos said. "I'll tell you, it's a shock. [His father]Paul's been a coach in the organization for the last five years. The whole organization's in shock. It's really a sad day for everyone who knew Paul, or Evan, or the family."
Health officials have not confirmed the link between the H1N1 influenza virus and the death of the boy. A total of 29 people have died in Ontario since the outbreak, though many have underlying health issues. However, young Evan appeared to be a healthy young athlete.
"That was the most shocking thing. I mean, I don't even think the kid had asthma. What I was told, he just had respiratory failure [and]stopped breathing," Mr. Robillos said.
On Saturday, an unidentified preteen girl believed to have the H1N1 virus died in an Ottawa hospital, the first fatality in the fall's second wave of the pandemic. Like Evan, the girl was not said to have had any underlying medical conditions. Officials said she had the flu-like symptoms for a couple days, before they quickly intensified in severity.
Friends of Evan's from The Hill Academy, school tailored to student athletes, said they were in shock.
"Our first school hockey game he got a hat trick," said classmate Lukas Hufsky in an e-mail to The Globe. "He seemed fine when I was with him on Wednesday, was sitting beside him in the hockey change room, and he was joking around with all the guys."
The classmate recalled last Monday, when he'd forgotten his skates and helmet. Evan was the only one to offer his cellphone, so that Lukas could call home.
"We are in shock," he said. "He was a very spirited kid, and although I only knew him for a month or two, he was a good friend to me, and I will miss him."
Evan's death came on the first day of Canada's unprecedented coast-to-coast vaccination strategy . Health regions across the country began vaccinating Canadians in groups considered high-risk, such as health workers, young children, pregnant women, and those living in remote communities, including First Nations reserves.
Healthy Canadians are being asked to hold off on getting the vaccine for another two to three weeks, as the vaccine continues to be distributed across the country and officials place an emphasis on the at-risk groups.