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Regional Update: First COVID-19 fatality on the Gaspé Peninsula


MARIA: – The Gaspé Peninsula and Magdalen Islands has reported its first death due to the COVID19 pandemic.

A 79-year-old resident of the Manoir du Havre in Maria died on the night of April 4 at the Maria hospital, six days after being admitted.  A significant COVID-19 outbreak was reported at that private residence for seniors on March 31.

The family of Gustave Joseph, the deceased patient, talks publicly about the case. Marcel Joseph, his nephew, points out that his uncle was suffering from heart and lung problems before his March 29 admission at the Maria hospital. “He was already very sick. He was in contact with it (the virus) and caught it. My sister works in a Montreal hospital and she had told me that would he catch it, he wouldn’t survive. He was admitted to the hospital on Sunday. He was very, very weak. He died alone. I had not seen him in a month because he couldn’t have any visitors. It was too dangerous for him,” explains Marcel Joseph, who lives in Paspebiac.

The Manoir du Havre has so far, generated 39 of the region’s 54 cases of COVID-19. The infection was unknowingly transmitted by an employee after she spent three days in Quebec City. She infected 10 residents and many others who she was in contact with, after her return from the trip and before her March 27 hospitalization.

Despite the numerous harsh comments, especially on social media, the Joseph family stays very calm and refuses to blame anybody. “It is not anybody’s fault. My uncle was very well treated at the Manoir du Havre and he received very good care from the hospital staff,” assures Marcel Joseph.

He adds that his uncle was an important part of his life. “I come from a family of 12 kids and my father died when I was one. He was one family member who helped us. That is why we are a closely-knit family.”

Marcel Joseph and his daughter Kim Arsenault Joseph are asking people to “respect Mr. Legault’s rules,” referring to the premier of Quebec, who insists on social distancing and the importance of basic sanitary rules. “Everyone who dies of COVID-19 dies alone. Nobody should die in those conditions,” she states.

Meanwhile, 11 new cases of COVID-19 were added to the region’s total on April 5. “They are all related to the Manoir du Havre outbreak,” says Dr. Iv Bonnier-Viger, Director general of the Gaspé Peninsula and Magdalen Islands Public Health Board. Those new cases do not involve any residents though.

In Sainte-Thérèse-de-Gaspé, the management of the E. Gagnon et Fils snow crab processing plant has decided to close the facility until April 7 inclusively, as precaution because an employee was confirmed to have COVID-19. A list of all the employees that could have been in contact with that staff member was created and an epidemiological investigation is underway.