Canadian senator dies after being hospitalized for COVID-19

A Canadian senator with an autoimmune disease has died from COVID-19 after being hospitalized with the virus for more than a month.

Sen. Josée Forest-Niesing, 56, was hospitalized with COVID-19 in October, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). She was later released from the hospital on Nov. 14.

The senator’s office said that Forest-Niesing was fully vaccinated against COVID-19 but noted that she lived with an autoimmune disease for 15 years, which weakened her lungs, according to the CBC. In a statement on Tuesday, her office said that illness made her more vulnerable to COVID-19.

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George Furey, the speaker of the Canadian Senate, confirmed Forest-Niesing's death in a statement on Saturday, calling her a “friend and colleague.”

“Senator Forest-Niesing contributed to her community as a member and chair of numerous boards of directors, and she will be remembered as an ardent and passionate defender of access to justice in both official languages," Furey said.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin TrudeauJustin Pierre James TrudeauCanadians warned against travel to Ukraine Canada to allow unvaccinated Canadian truckers to enter from US Montreal limiting gatherings in homes to six people MORE also recognized Forest-Niesing’s death, praising her as “a dedicated public servant and a champion for minority language communities.”

“Throughout her life, Senator Forest-Niesing passionately defended and promoted access to justice and public services in both official languages as well as in sign language, including for Indigenous communities,” Trudeau added in a statement

Trudeau appointed Forest-Niesing to the Senate in 2018.

While COVID-19 vaccines have proved to be effective in preventing serious illness, it is still possible for fully inoculated individuals to test positive for the virus in what are often called “breakthrough cases.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said that breakthrough cases are oftentimes “less severe” than infections in individuals who are not inoculated, resulting in a smaller chance of being hospitalized.

Just over 75 percent of Canada’s total population is vaccinated against COVID-19, according to a government database.