OTTAWA -- Joan Lepage says not being able to say goodbye is the toughest part of losing someone to novel coronavirus during the pandemic.

“COVID-19 took her … and it’s the saddest thing I’ve ever seen.”

Lepage’s 78-year-old sister Shirley McLean died on Saturday from COVID-19 related pneumonia in hospital.

“The disease had really taken a hold of her, and that’s what it does to the elderly people” says Lepage.

McLean was a resident of the Carolina Court Retirement Residence in Perth, where a COVID-19 outbreak was declared on March 29.   

According to a statement provided by Sienna Senior Living, a total of 27 residents and seven team members have tested positive for COVID-19 as of April 13th.  

“On behalf of the entire team, we extend our condolences to the families of the residents who have lost loved ones who had tested positive for COVID-19.   We also thank them for the support and gratitude they have extended to the team for the care and comfort of their loved ones”

McLean was transferred to the Perth Hospital after dealing with COVID-19 symptoms at the residence.   Her sister says her health deteriorated quickly within just one week.

“Her family physician called me Saturday afternoon, and he told me that I don’t think she’ll make it,” said LePage.

“Wednesday, COVID-19 pneumonia set in …. Thursday when we Skyped again, she was non-responsive.  She never said a word.   It’s almost like she had disintegrated - the disease had really taken a hold of her”

Not seeing her sister was difficult for Lepage.

“It just happened so fast; and all of a sudden they were isolated, and we couldn’t go in, and no one could come out; I understood that, but Shirley never understood that,” said Lepage in an interview with CTV News Ottawa.

“The fact that I couldn’t get to her was just devastating; I felt hopeless, useless - not to be able to get to her when she needed me the most is just pulling my heart right out of me.”

Lepage adds “I truly will miss her.”