Cape Breton woman in her 70s is Nova Scotia’s first death related to COVID-19

A woman in her 70s from Cape Breton has died from complications related to COVID-19, according to health officials, marking what they say is Nova Scotia’s first death connected to the virus.

The Department of Health said Tuesday in a news release the woman had underlying health conditions. She died Monday in a hospital in the eastern zone, an area that includes Antigonish and Guysborough counties and Cape Breton.

“To her family, there are no words that I can say to take away the pain and suffering that your family is experiencing today, other than I hope that you know this entire province has its arms wrapped around you as a family as you go through this very, very difficult time,” Premier Stephen McNeil said, voice wavering, during the provincial COVID-19 update on Tuesday.

The province also announced it had identified 17 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the provincial total to 310. The cases ranged in age from under 10 to older than 90.

Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health for the province, said Nova Scotians need to come together, “do what’s necessary and stay home.”

‘There are no words that I can say to take away the pain and suffering that your family is experiencing today,’ Premier Stephen McNeil said Tuesday to the family of a Cape Breton woman who is believed to be the first person to have died from COVID-19 in Nova Scotia. (CBC)

“It’s unfortunate that this death has happened, but we do know the sad reality to COVID-19 is that people do die from this disease,” he added.

Although the woman who died is someone who had an underlying health condition, Strang said COVID-19 can be deadly to people who don’t have one.

“Even in North America, we are seeing previously healthy young people also getting severe disease and dying. This does disease does not respect age,” he said.

Strang calls out Costco shoppers

Strang said he saw a social media post showing a long lineup of customers at Costco in Bayers Lake who appeared to be standing too close together on Tuesday morning and weren’t practising physical distancing of staying two metres apart from each other.

“I don’t know what it takes to get people to understand that this is the kind of activity that actually easily spreads this disease,” Strang said.

“I know we’re moving into Easter. People are anxious to get groceries. But we need to understand that you have to do this in a way that respects the requirements around social distancing and numbers.”

Strang said he’s concerned there could be a spike in cases because of people out shopping for Easter.

“I’m baffled when I see a picture like that, quite frankly,” he said.

This map shows the breakdown of known COVID-19 cases in Nova Scotia by health zone, as of Tuesday, April 7, 2020. (Province of Nova Scotia)

Eleven people were in hospital and 66 were listed as recovered. There had been 10,621 negative COVID-19 test results in the province. 

On Monday, the province announced it was expanding the testing criteria to anyone showing the symptoms of COVID-19: a fever or a new or worsening cough.

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