MANILA, Philippines – A Filipina nurse in a hospital in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia was the first Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) to die from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Tuesday.
“Our Embassy in Riyadh confirmed that a 41-year-old Filipina staff nurse at a hospital in Riyadh died last August 29,” DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez told reporters in a press briefing.
“Based on a medical report obtained by the Embassy, the deceased ‘tested positive for the coronavirus before her death’,” he said.
The World Health Organization (WHO) included the OFW in its list of four recent victims from the disease outbreak.
WHO said in a statement September 7, 2013 that she had “no known underlying medical conditions and became ill on August 15, 2013.”
“Her condition deteriorated and she passed away at the end of August. No known exposure to animals, or to a confirmed MERS-CoV case, has been identified and investigations into the source of infection are on-going,” WHO said.
WHO said that another 79 year old Saudi woman had died after developing a respiratory illness on August 21. Two Saudi men, a 30 year old and a 47 year old, are both in critical condition, it said.
“Globally, from September 2012 to date, WHO has been informed of a total of 114 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV, including 54 deaths,” WHO said.
Hernandez said that the OFW was admitted complaining of fever and coughing.
“She developed respiratory distress and was put on a ventilator on August 22,” he said.
“Two days later, she was diagnosed with severe pneumonia and had to be transferred to the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit,” Hernandez added,
She eventually succumbed to the disease on August 29.
The family of the OFW have been informed and they were still awaiting guidance from the Department of Health regarding the repatriation of her remains.
The DFA advised Filipinos in affected countries to immediately consult health officials if they feel symptoms of the disease such as fever, cough, shortness of breath and diarrhea, Hernandez said.
Another Filipina who contracted MERS-CoV was recovering in the same hospital in Riyadh, DFA said.
“The patient was brought by her employer to the hospital for dialysis and was infected during her confinement. She is now recovering,” Hernandez said.