The late Kathlyn St. Hilaire
The late Kathlyn St. Hilaire

From all accounts, the late Kathlyn St. Hilaire, the first person to die of COVID-19 in Dominica can be described as nothing more than an amazing individual.

"This is my child. She was the most delightful person I knew. She is gone but she touched many lives during her lifetime. People who had the opportunity to know her were blessed to have interacted with such a precious soul," wrote her mother Catherine Abraham.

On August 17, 2021, Dominicans learned of the passing of the 46-year old who was admitted to the COVID Isolation Unit in Portsmouth on August 14.

According to Health Minister Dr. Irving McIntyre, she suffered from pre-existing medical conditions, which placed her in the high-risk category.

Moments following her passing, messages of love and condolences began pouring in on various social media platforms.

"Our beloved colleague of 22 years, and dear friend, Kathlyn St. Hilaire passed away," wrote staff from her place of employment Archipelago Trading Limited. "Our team suffered a devastating loss of an incredibly happy soul and our go-to person. Her efficiency, warmth and laughter endeared her not only to the rest of our team, but also to our customers, and to many, she became the face of Archipelago."

Sadly, the company noted that she will be deeply missed by the management and staff of Archipelago Trading, and during this "difficult time," urged the public to keep her family in their thoughts and prayers.

In memory of St. Hilaire, the company informed that all of their offices and stores will be closed on Tuesday, August 24, 2021, including Archipelago Trading's main office, Cambioman/MoneyGram, Jewelers International, Luxury Emporium, Distribution Wine & Spirits, Tropical Shipping, Safe Haven, Beacon Insurance, and Patty Shack.

A "deeply sorry" Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit expressed his condolences to the family of the deceased and said her passing presents an opportunity for national reflection.

"Our nation grieves with you," the Prime Minister said in a post on his Facebook page. "I pledge my support, and that of the Government and people of Dominica, to the family during their time of bereavement and wish them God's comfort and strength during this difficult period."

According to Skerrit, her passing should remind citizens of the need to practice all safety protocols recommended by health officials to protect ourselves and the most vulnerable and at-risk among us.

"We must all work together to prevent further spread of this disease to safeguard the collective health of our nation. May God bless the bereaved family. May God bless Dominica," he said.

The executive of the opposition United Workers Party-TEAM Dominica was also among the many to offer heartfelt condolences to the family, friends and associates of St. Hilaire.

"We are especially sorry that the family, friends and associates are having to cope with the loss at this time of additional stress brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic," the party said in a press release.

"This unprecedented health emergency has limited the ability of loved ones and communities to gather and observe the cultural traditions that help the process of grieving the loss of loved ones. The need to come together to fight this disease is paramount at this time, as this pandemic continues to pose threats to the world and Dominica," it added.

The party further extended their best wishes to those who have been infected and undergoing treatment and called on all Dominicans to continue to follow the protocols published and broadcasted by Dominica's health authorities, as the nation works together to contain the spread of this virus.