A 19-year-old in Quebec has died of COVID-19, which marks the first fatality among those under 20 in Quebec, and the second in Canada.
The father of the victim has identified him as Don Béni Kabangu Nsapu to CBC. According to his father, Alain Lukinda Nsapu, his son had no underlying health conditions. He was just weeks shy of starting CEGEP, and was known to be a promising student-athlete.
“It’s a bad shock for me,” said Alain Lukinda Nsapu to CBC. “We’ve never heard of a young person dying from it here and for my son to be the first, it’s very painful. It hurts my heart.”
According to federal statistics, only one other person has died among those 19 and under in Canada after contracting the virus. The victim, a girl under the age of 10, was reported in Ontario in late-June.
Kabangu Nsapu was initially brought to a hospital when he developed a fever over a month ago, and was told to go home and isolate for 14 days after being diagnosed with the virus. But by the end of the third week, matters got worse, said Lukinda Nsapu.
“After that, I don’t know [what went wrong], you have to ask the hospital,” said Lukinda Nsapu.
Due to privacy laws, the respective health department cannot share information about patients and victims to the public.
Lukinda Nsapu says that his son spent nine days in hospital before he died Aug. 16. It remains unclear how he contracted the virus, or why he didn’t survive, while Lukinda Nsapu says that his son was rarely sick.
The Nsapu family, who live north of Montreal according to CBC, are holding a visitation Friday, while a GoFundMe fundraiser has been created by a friend to help pay for the funeral.
“The loss of a child is a tragedy…my heart is with [the family], as a parent,” said Canada’s health minister Patty Hajdu on Friday. “At the end of the day we also need the full participation of every Canadian in order to keep these rates of infection low.”
Young people have not been as severely impacted by the virus compared to other age demographics. As of the most current federal data, people 19 and younger makeup 8.4 per cent of the nation’s total cases, and 1.2 per cent of all hospitalizations.
“If we don’t keep the rates in this population as low as possible, even rare, serious outcomes could occur,” said Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer.