DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – A 31-year-old Filipina nurse died of COVID-19 in this gulf state as the world observed International Nurses Day.
Lezly Concepcion died in an Abu Dhabi hospital Tuesday, May 12, according to her cousin, Marianeal Ocampo.
Ocampo, who is based in La Union, told Rappler in an interview that Concepcion was supposed to go home to be with her 5-year-old daughter this month, but she had to scrap the plan because of the coronavirus lockdown in parts of the Philippines.
“Ngayon, uuwi nga po siya pero patay na. Worse, abo na lang ang i-uuwi sa amin (She will still be home, but in another state. Worse, only her ashes will be brought home to us),” she said.
She said Concepcion informed the family through a group chat that she had tested positive for COVID-19. Concepcion went on home quarantine sometime near May.
She said the family was updated about Concepcion’s health status, and later her death, by regularly keeping in touch with the human resource department of her company and with doctors at the hospital where she was in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
Ocampo said the family was devastated by the death of Concepcion, whom she described as “a very good and cheerful person.”
“Sobrang biglaan. Masakit ‘yung pagkamatay niya kasi ang layo niya sa amin. Ang hirap tanggapin lalo na’t mag-isa lang siya doon sa Abu Dhabi at wala kaming magawa (It happened so suddenly. Her death was really painful for us because she’s so far away. It’s hard to accept, especially as she was all alone in Abu Dhabi and we couldn’t do anything),” she said.
The UAE chapter of the Philippine Nurses Association (PNA) mourned the death of Concepcion.
“The Filipino nursing community in UAE has lost another nightingale. Farewell to you, Ma’am Lezly. Our heartfelt condolences to the family and may you rest in peace. Real heroes don’t have a name on the back of their uniform, they have their country’s flag on the arm of a uniform,” PNA-UAE said.
Dedicated community volunteer
In Dubai, an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) known for his dedicated community volunteerism also died of COVID-19.
Filipino mechanic Melchor Corpuz Mandac died of the coronavirus disease also on May 12, Consul General Paul Raymund Cortes told reporters.
Cortes said Mandac, a member of Filipino volunteer group Task Force Tuklas, “was such a dedicated person.”
“True to the volunteer definition, he never thought that his job needed publicity. He did what was necessary and never aimed for the glorious part of volunteerism. He was always at my side during community events,” Cortes said.
Task Force Tuklas is a group of Filipino volunteers in Dubai under the supervision of the government, which assists in coronavirus detection in the community. The group also helps in food relief efforts for displaced OFWs.
Sherwin Achivara, one of Mandac’s 4 nephews in the UAE, said they had no idea that their uncle was already suffering from COVID-19. They only leaned later on that he had symptoms for the past two weeks.
“Nakikita lang namin sa FB niya, sinasabi niya, ‘Pagod lang ito.’ Hindi namin alam na COVID na pala (We only saw him saying on his Facebook page, ‘This is only exhaustion.’ We didn’t know that it was COVID), ” Achivara said.
Achivara said someone from the hospital called to inform him that their uncle had been rushed to the emergency room. Mandac lived in the Satwa District while Achivara stayed in a separate workers’ lodging facility in Al Quoz.
“Hirap raw huminga. Nagpanic kami. Nagsend ako ng message sa kanya kasi nakita ko naka-online pero hindi na siya naka-reply (He had difficulty breathing. We panicked. I sent a message to him because i saw that he was online but he wasn’t able to reply),” Achivara said.
He said Mandac’s family was also in disbelief over what happened as it was unexpected. He left behind a wife and 4 children in the Philippines.
Fellow volunteer Robel Beltran said Mandac was not able to undergo COVID testing as from the testing center, Mandac was brought straight to the hospital where he was intubated.
Jason Roi Bucton, Kalayaan 2020 Organizing Committee chairperson, said Mandac was known to sacrifice his personal time for community service.
“Kahit sa mga huling sandali ng kanyang buhay, nagboluntaryo pa siya sa Dubai Police para mas makapagsilbi sa komunidad sa panahon ng pandemya, hanggang siya na mismo ang binawian dahil sa COVID (Even in the final days of his life, he volunteered with the Dubai Police to service the community during the pandemic, until he himself lost his life because of COVID),” Bucton said.
The Ministry of Health and Prevention (MOHAP) announced on Thursday, May 14, that total number of COVID cases in the UAE was at 21,084, with 208 deaths and 6,930 recoveries. – Rappler.com