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First Pinay dies from MERS virus

MANILA, Philippines - A 41-year-old Filipina nurse in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia died last month of coronavirus while another Filipina is confined at a hospital after she also contracted the virus, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said yesterday.

DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez said the Filipina nurse, whose name was withheld, suffered pneumonia.

“Our embassy in Riyadh confirmed that a 41-year-old Filipina staff nurse at a hospital in Riyadh died last Aug. 29 and based on a medical report obtained, the deceased tested positive for the coronavirus before her death,” Hernandez said.

He said the nurse was admitted to hospital on Aug. 12 after a fishbone got stuck in her throat. She was discharged on Aug. 14.

Five days later, she complained of fever and coughing.

The victim developed respiratory distress and was put on a ventilator on Aug. 22.

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Two days later, she was diagnosed with severe pneumonia and had to be transferred to the hospital’s intensive care unit.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said the health agency was informed of four additional laboratory-confirmed cases of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection in Saudi Arabia.

The first case is a 41-year-old female healthcare worker from Riyadh with no known underlying medical conditions and who became ill last Aug. 15. Her condition deteriorated and she died at the end of August.

The WHO said no known exposure to animals, or to a confirmed MERS-CoV case, has been identified and investigations into the source of infection are ongoing.

According to Hernandez, the hospital supervisor said that another Filipina is currently confined at the same hospital after testing positive for coronavirus.

“The patient was brought by her employer to the hospital for dialysis and was infected during her confinement. She is now recovering,” he said.

The DFA has coordinated with the family of the dead Filipina nurse and the Department of Health (DOH) regarding the repatriation of her remains.

“Our citizens are advised to follow the measures being taken by local health authorities to prevent the spread of the virus,” Hernandez said.

Those who are feeling any of the symptoms – including fever, cough, shortness of breath and even diarrhea – should immediately seek medical attention.

The WHO said the four additional laboratory-confirmed cases of MERS-CoV infection in Saudi Arabia also include a 30-year-old Saudi male healthcare worker from Riyadh, working in the same hospital.

He developed severe pneumonia on Sept. 1 and is currently in critical condition.

The third case involved a 79-year-old woman from Hafar al-Batin province who developed a respiratory illness on Aug. 21. Her condition deteriorated and she died on Sept. 2.

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