North Battleford health-care worker first in Saskatchewan to die from COVID-19

A North Battleford family is grieving the loss of its patriarch.

Tom Thomas, a health-care worker in a long-term care facility, died in an emergency room Monday.

His friends and family say he contracted COVID-19 and believe his death was a result of complications from the disease.

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Saskatchewan’s health minister believes he is the first health-care worker to die from the novel coronavirus in the province.

Paul Merriman and the premier addressed Thomas’ death at a press conference on Feb. 18, calling him a hero on the front lines.

“I truly would like the family to know that there are many thoughts and many prayers and many people that are thinking of their family across this province,” Scott Moe said.

Read more: Saskatchewan COVID-19 hospitalizations briefly underreported this week: province

An online fundraiser for his funeral expenses says he was a 34-year-old father who moved from southern India to North Battleford in 2016.

The fundraiser’s web page said he was an active member of the St. Mother Teresa Syro-Malabar church and its choir.

It noted his wife, who is also a health-care worker, is still on maternity leave and caring for their 18-month-old child.

As of 4:30 p.m., the campaign had raised more than $92,000.

A note from the organizer also said Thomas would be cremated and his ashes would be taken to India once travel is safe.

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Read more: Saskatchewan’s COVID-19 vaccine supply running dry, 12K doses expected next week

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) said Thomas was a member of its union, noting its membership is heartbroken by the loss.

In a press release, CUPE added it offers gratitude to front-line workers who continue to put their lives on the line on a daily basis.

A service and viewing are set to take place in the coming days.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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