PH COVID-19 death toll hits 8 as cases soar to 111
The Department of Health (DOH) announced on Saturday the death of three more patients with the new coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country, bringing the total number of fatalities to eight, four of whom all frequented the Greenhills shopping district in San Juan City.
The health department reported the deaths shortly before Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire confirmed an additional 47 cases, the largest single-day increase in the country which now tallies 111 patients.
The latest deaths raised the count to eight, which some interpreted to be a high rate compared to other countries.
But Vergeire explained that most of the confirmed cases in the country had aggravating factors. Most are either middle-aged or elderly with underlying medical conditions, like diabetes and hypertension or compromised immunity.
“These are all our vulnerable population who are at high risk of getting this disease and at high risk of becoming critical [cases],” Vergeire said.
The two latest deaths were those of a patient in Pampanga, known only as “Pampanga 3,” who died on March 11 at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Medical Center (OLMCMC) in the City of San Fernando, and “Patient 40,” who died late March 14 at Northern Mindanao Medical Center (NMMC) in Cagayan de Oro City.
Both the latest fatalities visited the prayer room in San Juan City which was also frequented by “Patients 5 and 6,” a married couple from Cainta, Rizal, who both died of the disease on March 12.
On the same day, Cainta Mayor Kit Nieto placed the entire town under quarantine after the emergence of a third case following that of the couple, who had four children living in their house at a subdivision in Cainta. The couple’s children are also under home quarantine.
On March 9, three days before the couple died, Pampanga 3 was admitted to OLMCMC in the City of San Fernando, shortly after he visited the San Juan prayer hall upon his arrival in Metro Manila from Singapore. He died on March 11, according to Pampanga Gov. Dennis Pineda.
First case in Mindanao
Patient 40, on the other hand, was a 54-year-old Muslim teacher from Lanao del Sur who lived in Pasig City and worked in San Juan City. He was the first coronavirus case in Mindanao.
Lanao del Sur Gov. Mamintal Adiong said Patient 40 was believed to have contracted COVID-19 in Metro Manila, shortly before he returned to Mindanao late February.
On March 3, he was admitted for pneumonia to a hospital in Iligan City where many of his friends visited him. Adiong said there were eight tracer teams looking for the people who may have had contact with Patient 40.
An earlier profile of Patient 40 said he had no known travel history. But an Inquirer source, who is a friend of Patient 40, said he regularly traveled to Southeast Asian countries, particularly Malaysia and Indonesia, in connection with his trading business.
The source said Patient 40 last visited Malaysia in February while Dr. Adriano Suba-an, the DOH Northern Mindanao regional director, said Patient 40 manifested symptoms as early as Feb. 24.
He died of acute respiratory distress syndrome due to pneumonia and acute kidney injury at NMMC in Cagayan de Oro City on March 13.
Exposed hospital staff
Dr. Jose Chan, NMMC chief, told reporters on Saturday that 50 hospital staff members who attended to Patient 40 were being monitored while in self-isolation.
Chan added that the man’s wife and daughter, who watched over him in confinement, were also advised not to leave the hospital and undergo quarantine inside the facility after they buried Patient 40 on Saturday according to Islamic rites.
The same problem, Vergeire said, is confronting the Philippine Heart Center (PHC) where 12 health workers who attended to a COVID-19 case on Thursday did not wear personal protective equipment because they believed Patient 37 was a noncommunicable case.
“As of now, PHC is limiting its hospital operations to accommodate in-patient and emergency cases only. Services in the outpatient department were temporarily stopped March 11 and are expected to reopen on March 16,” Vergeire said.
“I assure our health workers that you have the full support of the whole department as we go through this ordeal together. I commend the commitment of our health workers, who amid the risks they are currently facing, are still serving and saving the lives of our ‘kababayan.’ Our commitment to safeguard the health and well-being of our health care workers remains to be our priority,” she said.
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