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Two Alberta health-care workers die from COVID-19: health minister

CALGARY — Alberta's health minister says the province has lost two health-care workers due to COVID-19.
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CALGARY — Alberta's health minister says the province has lost two health-care workers due to COVID-19.

Tyler Shandro started Tuesday's COVID-19 briefing by honouring the memory of Joe Marie (Jing) Corral of Calgary and announcing the death of a second continuing-care home worker in the Edmonton area.

"He served residents faithfully in spite of the risk of COVID," Shandro said of Corral. "He's an example of the strength of this health-care system and the commitment of the many people who work in it.

"Joe is the first health-care worker that we've lost to COVID-19 here in Alberta and I am very sorry to have to announce the loss of another continuing care worker."

Shandro said the second worker, whose name wasn't released, was a woman in her 50s in the Edmonton zone.

"Our thoughts go out to all the families."

The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees said Corral died on Dec. 28.

"He was 61 years old," union vice-president Bobby-Joe Borodey said earlier Tuesday. 

"His family shared with me that he was in relatively good health and the (Workers' Compensation Board) has, in fact, confirmed or at least agreed that he contracted COVID while at work."

Corral was a health-care aide at Calgary's Bethany Riverview continuing-care facility, which currently has an outbreak of COVID-19.

"The loss of anyone at any time is tragic, but what this really does is bring to the forefront that this pandemic is real," Borodey said. "It's scary and this is something that (health-care workers) deal with daily. 

"This is incredibly, incredibly unfortunate and our hearts go out to his family, his friends and his co-workers but COVID is real, this pandemic is real, and working in these positions is dangerous."

Corral leaves behind a daughter in Burnaby, B.C., and a son in Edmonton.

Family members said in a statement released by the union that they are grateful for the support.

"We cannot thank enough those whom have offered their condolences, resources and financial support." 

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the family with the funeral and other costs. It has raised more than $6,000 so far.

At least a dozen other health-care workers have died across Canada, mostly in Ontario and Quebec, since the pandemic began.

One of the most recent was a worker at a Quebec City long-term care home who died on Saturday. 

Oscar Anibal Rodriguez, who was in his late 50s, had worked at the CSHLD St-Antoine. He was one of thousands of people who answered the province's call to be trained as patient attendants.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 5, 2021.

The Canadian Press