ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — The recent death of a man who travelled to Newfoundland and Labrador from Central Africa was not primarily due to COVID-19, Health Minister John Haggie said Monday.
Nonetheless, the man is listed as the province's fourth COVID-19 victim.
“The only comment I can make about that is that COVID-19 is recorded on the death certificate, as far as I'm informed by the chief medical examiner, as a supplementary diagnosis, not the principal diagnosis,” Haggie told reporters.
Privacy concerns, he added, kept him from saying much else about the man or his death. The man tested positive for COVID-19 after he died, Haggie confirmed.
Health authorities say the man, between the ages of 60 and 69, arrived last Wednesday and died a day later while self-isolating. They say he was not exhibiting symptoms during his travel to the province.
On Sunday, authorities said a woman connected to the man and also between the ages of 60 and 69 had tested positive for COVID-19. She too had travelled to the province from Central Africa.
On Monday, health officials advised passengers on Air Canada flight 604 on Sept. 30, seated in rows 13 through 17, to self-isolate for 14 days from the moment they arrived into the province, and to call 811 to arrange a test.
Passengers on AC8876 from Halifax to Deer Lake, N.L., on Sept. 30, are also being asked to self-monitor for symptoms and to call 811 to arrange a COVID-19 test. Passengers from that flight who are required to isolate have already been contacted, the Health Department said.
Meanwhile, the Labrador-Grenfell health authority said Monday in an email that a communication error led to a health-care worker from Saskatchewan misunderstanding isolation rules.
Authorities said last week she tested positive for COVID-19 after she had arrived in Labrador with a travel exemption as an essential worker. In response, the Health Department asked anyone who had visited two Happy Valley-Goose Bay stores during specific times to arrange for a COVID-19 test.
Essential workers who travel to Newfoundland and Labrador are required to isolate when they aren't at work, for 14 days upon their arrival into the province. The regional health authority said the woman misunderstood isolation rules because of a communication error.
On Thursday, Haggie told reporters an investigation was underway to determine if the woman had visited the two stores. He said on Monday that he hadn’t been told about the alleged communication error when he held the press conference.
A Health Department spokesperson said the agency was updating its process for informing out-of-province health-care workers about proper isolation protocols. Haggie said Monday he’d seen the updated policy on paper and that he was satisfied with the changes.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 5, 2020.
Sarah Smellie, The Canadian Press