Community elder has died of COVID-19, says La Loche mayor

The mayor of La Loche says a community elder, who was a long-term care patient diagnosed with COVID-19, has died.

Robert St. Pierre confirmed the death of Joseph Pierre Sylvestre, 83, to Global News on Sunday.

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The community of La Loche also confirmed the news on their Facebook page.

“The Northern Village of La Loche wishes to extend its sympathy to Joseph (Pierre Bannock) Sylvestre’s family with the news of his passing in North Battleford,” said the post. “We can only imagine your pain at his loss especially during these difficult times with COVID-19 threatening us all and interfering with normal grieving processes.”

The death is the fifth COVID-19-related death in the province and the first death involving someone in long-term care. Sylvester died in a North Battleford hospital Sunday morning, confirmed Pierre.

CBC was the first to break the story.

The government of Saskatchewan has not reported any new deaths related to COVID-19. On Sunday afternoon, the government said the province’s death toll remains at four, with Sylvester not being accounted for.

The Ministry of Health said the numbers posted Sunday are the most up-to-date information provincial epidemiologists have as of Saturday night, including fatalities where COVID-19 has been indicated.

The ministry said deaths related to COVID-19 need to be confirmed by the province’s medical health officer before it can be recorded. Once this is verified, the death will be reported in the province’s next report.

The far north has become Saskatchewan’s new epicentre for active cases. Of the 61 active cases in the province, 32 are in the far north, while nine are in the north.

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Last week, the province’s chief medical health officer announced that a long-term care home in La Loche was at the centre of an outbreak.

Clearwater Dene Nation and La Loche have reported 24 cases of COVID-19.

Pierre said his community has been busy on Sunday dealing with the death. He said he would provide more information in the coming days.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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