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LONDON, ONT. -- The father of a 19-year-old who died last week after being diagnosed with COVID-19 said his son absolutely died from the disease and did not take his own life.
Speaking through a translator Tuesday, Ahmad Dabeh spoke to media in an effort to quash online rumours Yassin Dabeh died by suicide.
The translator, Tamara Elsayed, said the family is distraught over the rumours circulating on social media.
Ahmad, speaking in Arabic, said he didn't know how the false rumours spread and he "hopes the rumours will be stopped."
He called the rumours a "shock" and "absurd" and said "it does upset the family and they wish to mourn in peace without false allegations."
The Middlesex-London Health Unit confirmed Saturday the 19-year-old was a COVID-19-related death, but could not elaborate due to privacy rules.
Ahmad told reporters that Yassin was in and out of hospital after contracting COVID-19 in mid-January and the day before his death he was complaining of having difficulty breathing, chest pain and soreness.
"They were not there at the time of his death and they were not there to watch him struggle with COVID-19," he explained.
Ahmad Dabeh, the father of 19-year-old Yassin Dabeh, speaks via Zoom in London, Ont. on Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021.
Ahmad said blood work done after Yassin's death indicated it was due to COVID-19.
Yassin had been working as a cleaner at Middlesex Terrace Long-Term Care Home in Delaware, Ont. which is dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak.
Both of Yassin's parents and a several members of his immediate family also contracted COVID-19, which meant they could not attend his burial.
Yassin's mother was in hospital three times, but is now recovering at home, being cared for by her husband.
Ahmad added that, "It's been a difficult situation for them, but he's thankful for everyone who reached out and showed their support emotionally and financially...and those who gave condolences for the passing of their son."
Yassin Dabeh, 19, is seen in this undated family photo.
He hopes his son will be remembered as a "sweet, lovable boy (who) was very caring...he was a good kid as most of his friends and family have been sharing…Yassin dreamed of starting a new life, getting a job, having a future and proper education."
The family sought refuge in Canada in 2016, moving from Syria, and Ahmed said they are grateful to the people of Canada for the opportunity.
Yassin's death is just the third in Canada for a person under the age of 20.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to support the family.