Miles from home, pain from COVID-19 death strikes just as close

/ 05:00 AM April 25, 2020

SAN PEDRO CITY—Death knows no distance for a family in Laguna province who recently lost two members to the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and has two more fighting for their lives in a hospital.

For Anne (not her real name), 36, a Filipino immigrant in Los Angeles, California, the hardest decisions had to be made through overseas calls. Grieving had to be shared over FaceTime.


“It was on Tuesday (April 14), at dawn, when the doctors called us up. They were asking [for consent] to revive daddy,” she said. “They (doctors) said they had been doing so for the past 40 minutes that [should he had survived], there would have already been damage to his brain.”

“Daddy” was Anne’s 59-year-old stepfather, an engineer in a state science research agency in the Philippines. He was “Patient 20” in this city government’s tally and the seventh fatality to the viral disease.


The city government here said he died of severe pneumonia.

He was not the first in the family. Just two days before that, his elder sister, 68, died.

She was this city’s “Patient 11,” her cause of death was acute pulmonary embolism.

The siblings lived together with another sister, 64, and a brother-in-law, 68—the last two also tested positive for the virus and are confined in a hospital.

When relatives abroad learned that the household, in a middle-income subdivision here, was contaminated, they sent the house helper away and Anne’s 5-year-old brother to other relatives.

No fever

“The last time someone had gone out of that house was on March 14 to a mall [to get supplies] just before the lockdown,” Anne said.

It took some weeks before “Patient 11” developed symptoms that began with cough and labored breathing.


None of them had high fever, supposedly a clearer indication of the disease that automatically warrants a test, but Anne’s stepfather had to “pull some strings” in order to get medical attention.

Anne’s stepfather was finally sent an ambulance but was barely conscious when he arrived in a hospital.

“It’s crazy, the sudden deaths. What’s hard was you don’t get to say goodbye. It’s like they died of an accident and not of a disease,” she said.

Anne, who works in a computer software company, lives about 30 miles from her sister and mother—both Filipino health workers in America.

“I used to say depression was nothing, ‘Ah, that’s something you just make up.’ But I realized it isn’t. Nakakahiya (It’s embarrassing), but I had to seek therapy,” she said.

Anne was 18 weeks pregnant with her second child when she learned that her family members in the Philippines were afflicted with the virus. She was thousands of miles away from them when she lost her baby.

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TAGS: coronavirus Philippines, COVID-19 Philippines, crisis, death, Family, Laguna, lockdown, pandemic, Quarantine
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