Edmonton couple mourning two grandparents who died of COVID-19 this month

·2 min read

An Edmonton couple is grieving the loss of two grandparents to COVID-19 while a third relative battles the virus in hospital.

Tim Huang said his grandmother, Cho-Chih Huang, died of the illness on Dec. 13. She was 99 and lived at the Edmonton Chinese Seniors Lodge. She was taken to the Sturgeon Community Hospital in St. Albert after a fall, he said, and once in hospital tested positive for COVID-19.

Huang said his wife's grandfather, Bing Kwan, also died of the illness this month. He was 101 years old and tested positive for the virus at the Edmonton Chinatown Care Centre, where he died.

A third relative, Huang's father's 98-year-old mother-in-law, who was also living at the Edmonton Chinese Seniors Lodge, is fighting the illness at the Sturgeon.

The Chinatown Multi-Level Care Foundation owns both seniors' facilities on 102A Avenue in the Boyle Street neighbourhood, just east of downtown. The foundation operates the care centre and Chinese Seniors Management Services operates the lodge.

Both buildings have COVID-19 outbreaks.

Spokesperson Tom McMillan told CBC News on Wednesday that Alberta Health has been notified of 49 cases linked to the outbreak at the Edmonton Chinese Seniors Lodge. Of those cases, 38 are active, seven are recovered and there have been four COVID-19 deaths.

Alberta Health has been notified of 145 cases associated with the outbreak at the Edmonton Chinatown Care Centre. There are 15 active cases and 100 recovered cases, and there have been 30 deaths.

Huang said his grandmother, who immigrated to Canada in the 1970s, was an outgoing and fashionable stay-at-home mom who loved knitting and sharing her stash of preserved lemon peel.

A skilled mahjong player, she won a city-wide championship in 1986.

"She taught us the importance of really trying to live a happy life," Huang said Wednesday in an interview with CBC Edmonton's Radio Active.

Submitted by Tim Huang
Submitted by Tim Huang

Grandchildren had planned to speak with her on Zoom through a meeting organized by a social worker at the hospital, but she died the morning of the meeting.

Huang said he FaceTimed with her briefly before she died and the social worker was able to pass her emails from family members.

Huang said he posted about his family's experiences on Facebook to remind people how dangerous the virus can be.

"It can happen at any moment to somebody that you know," he said.