Filipina dies of Mers virus in Saudi

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The staff nurse in Riyadh is the 50th death from the infection worldwide, and 44th in Saudi Arabia

DEADLY NEW VIRUS. This undated handout picture courtesy of the British Health Protection Agency shows the Coronavirus seen under an electron microscope. AFP PHOTO / British Health Protection Agency

MANILA, Philippines – A 41-year-old Filipina nurse in Riyadh died August 29 of Mers, a new respiratory disease monitored worldwide but has hit Saudi Arabia worst.

The Philippine embassy in Riyadh obtained a medical report confirming that the Filipina “tested positive for the corona virus before her death,” said Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesman Raul Hernandez on Tuesday, September 17.

“Her family has already been informed of her demise and we are awaiting the Department of Health’s guidance regarding the repatriation of her remains,” Hernandez said in a press briefing.

“Mers” stands for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, which has an extremely high fatality rate of more than 51%. There is still no vaccine for it.

It is considered a cousin of the Sars virus that erupted in Asia in 2003 and infected 8,273 people, 9% of whom died.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has monitored 49 deaths from Mers as of August, with 43 of them in Saudi Arabia, according to various reports.

Another Filipina confined

Citing a report from the VIP ward supervisor of the hospital where the Filipina nurse worked and died, Hernandez said the Filipina went to the United States for a vacation on July 13. She returned to Ryadh on July 19 and reported for work on July 21.

On August 12, she was admitted to the hospital after a fishbone got stuck in her throat. She was discharged on August 14.

Five days later, she complained of fever and coughing. She developed respiratory distress and was put on a ventilator on August 22. Two days later, she was diagnosed with severe pneumonia and had to be transferred to the hospital’s intensive care unit.

“Per the hospital’s supervisor, another Filipina is currently confined at the same hospital after testing positive for Mers-COV,” Hernandez said.

This other patient was brought by her employer to the hospital for dialysis. She was infected during her confinement, but is now recovering.

The deputy director for medical administration of the Riyadh hospital had said that the remains of the deceased overseas Filipino worker “does not pose a public risk for as long as it is placed inside an impermeable body bag,” Hernandez said.

“In the meantime. Our citizens in affected countries are advised to follow the measures being taken by local health authorities to prevent the spread of virus,” the DFA spokesman said.

“They should also immediately seek medical attention if they feel any of the disease’s symptoms. These symptoms, according to the WHO, include fever, cough, shortness of breath and even diarrhea,” he said. –  


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