Doctor is 2nd COVID-19 fatality in Cebu City

Helen Tudtud

CEBU CITY, Cebu, Philippines — Another physician, a pathologist at Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC), succumbed to the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on Friday.Dr. Helen Tudtud, 66, passed away on March 27 as her husband, oncologist Dennis Tudtud, remained in critical condition at the same hospital, according to their son, Dennis Thomas Tudtud.

Helen was the second fatality of the virus in the city but it was only after her death became widely reported on social media on Saturday that health authorities here admitted that there was actually a first fatality who died on March 23, a 65-year-old man.


There was no explanation why the first death was not reported. Both died in Cebu City, according to a health official who declined to be named for lack of authority to speak to the media.

Helen was admitted on March 17 after experiencing symptoms and appeared to be stable up to March 21, before her condition deteriorated. Dennis Thomas said he had no idea where his parents got the virus, but both physicians worked at tertiary hospitals in Cebu — VSMMC and Chong Hua Hospital in Mandaue City, where a 65-year-old Cebu resident also succumbed to the virus on March 23.


VSMMC is one of the five subnational laboratories recently certified and designated by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine to conduct COVID-19 tests.

VSMMC was also the confirmatory lab for the tests of 23 persons under investigation (PUIs) in Eastern Visayas.

“The 23 PUIs are now cleared and for discharge in their respective health facilities,” Dr. Minerva Molon, the Eastern Visayas regional health director, said in a press statement.

22 found positiveIn Central Visayas, Dr. Jaime Bernadas, the regional health director, said 22 people were found to have contracted COVID-19 on March 28 and 16 of them were in Cebu City, which was placed under enhanced community quarantine starting noon of March 28.

Bernadas said the age of the new patients ranged from 27 to 72 and most of the new cases were in stable condition except for one.

Two persons, including Helen, died due to COVID-19 in Cebu City, while two other COVID-19 fatalities died in Negros Oriental.

Dennis Thomas expressed dismay over how some people treated them, particularly his deceased mother.


“Even before my mom passed away, rumors were already circulating that my mom has died, as early as March 18! Some heartless people even posted it all over social media. My mother was still fighting to stay alive but people were already killing her,” he said.

“Do you know how painful it is to have both parents admitted and both in serious and guarded condition—and yet you hear news saying that our mother has already died, when she is still holding on and fighting to stay alive? We understand the fear. We understand the panic. But do these heartless people not understand how much more fear and panic that we are in?” he added.

Dennis Thomas said their entire compound was even cordoned by the policemen.

‘We are not the virus’

“What for? We never breached the quarantine protocol! People treat us like some statistics they see on Facebook or on the news. We are people, too! It can happen to you and your family, too,” he said.

“We did not choose this virus. We do not even know where Mommy and Daddy caught it. We are not the virus and yet people are treating us like we are,” he said.

“My parents touched many lives and were always at the forefront of helping other people. Yet, some people shamelessly post their names all over social media as if they are the virus. I do not understand why this world has become so heartless. We are breaking but some people choose to break us even more.”

Dennis Thomas appealed to the public for prayers for his deceased mother and still-critical father.

“My heart is breaking and I can’t hug my sweet and loving Mommy Helen ever again. I will miss her laughter. I will miss everything about her and I will never see her again. I love you always mommy. Please watch over us as you always do. Please whisper to Daddy to keep on fighting and to stay alive.” —With a report from Joey A. Gabieta

For more news about the novel coronavirus click here.
What you need to know about Coronavirus.
For more information on COVID-19, call the DOH Hotline: (02) 86517800 local 1149/1150.

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