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Family of Kingston’s first COVID-19 fatality mourns respected professor’s death

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A Kingston family is mourning the loss of 82-year-old Robert Pike, who is the first person to die of COVID-19 in the Kingston region. – Jan 11, 2021

A Kingston family is mourning the death of Robert Pike, the 82-year-old who died Saturday as a result of COVID-19.

Robert is the first person in the Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington catchment area to die as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

His son, Chris Pike, said he wants people to know his father was not simply “a statistic” in the raging coronavirus pandemic — he was a man loved by his family and well-respected in Kingston’s academic community.

Robert was born in England in 1937 and lived there through the Second World War.

Read more: Kingston sees first COVID-19-related death

He was also well travelled. He moved to Australia, and then to Edmonton, where he met his wife, Faye, to whom he was happily married for nearly 50 years.

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The Pikes finally moved to Kingston in the 1970s, where Robert joined Queen’s University’s sociology department as a professor. There, he acted as the head of the department for many years and gained the title of emeritus when he retired.

According to his children, Robert helped countless people during their academic careers.

“He will be missed by many family and friends who remember his kindness and advice,” Chris said.

He is survived by his daughter, son and three grandchildren.

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Ontario government works around the clock to plan new measures after COVID-19 surge – Jan 11, 2021

According to Chris, Robert was admitted to hospital before New Year’s Eve with pneumonia, which he has survived on several occasions.

Chris said Kingston General Hospital (KGH) staff were very diligent about testing his father before he received positive results on Jan. 7.

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As of Monday, Chris said it’s unclear how Robert caught COVID-19, and that hospital staff are still investigating.

According to the government of Canada, the incubation period for the novel coronavirus “ranges from 1 to 14 days. The median is 5 to 6 days between exposure and symptom onset. Most people (97.5 per cent) develop symptoms within 11.5 days of exposure.”

Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC), which runs KGH, says there is currently no outbreak of COVID-19 at the hospital, but on Friday, it had one patient with the disease whose mode of transmission was under investigation.

KHSC would not answer if Robert was that patient, citing privacy issues.

“Our priority is always to work closely with KFL&A Public Health to understand and address the source of transmission and contact tracing related to any confirmed case of COVID-19 in our hospital, which is critical to our role in keeping patients and staff safe from COVID-19,” KHSC said.

Read more: Coronavirus — Kingston prepares to receive out-of-region COVID-19 patients

Chris made sure to note that Robert’s family is not laying blame on hospital staff for his death.

“KGH did all they could for him in his time of need and were very understanding,” he said Monday.

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He noted that several health agencies in the region have been in touch with the family, but that there is still no clarity on how his father caught COVID-19. He says he’s expecting the investigation to take some time.

According to KFL&A Public Health’s COVID-19 dashboard, there are currently two people in hospital with COVID-19, one of whom is on a ventilator.

When asked about Robert’s death, KHSC provided, in part, the following statement:

“We are deeply committed to compassionate care and we are saddened by the passing of any patient and the impact of this loss on their family and friends,” a statement from the hospital organization said.