The Manila City Hall has taken to its much-followed social media account once again to shoot down a pack of rumors swirling about a foreign man who collapsed in the city’s Ermita district over the weekend.
As it turns out, the man was not a Chinese national riddled with Wuhan coronavirus — as the internet had collectively assumed — but instead a drunk, rather confused Korean guy.
A netizen by the name of Zaldy Maguigad posted the now-viral video of the foreigner, who was seen lying unconscious at the corner of Remedios Street and Taft Avenue on Saturday. Maguigad assumed that the foreigner might be a Chinese national and was suffering from a fever (uh-oh! you know what that means!), and alleged that multiple hospitals and the police declined to respond to the emergency when he told them over the phone of the victim’s presumed nationality.
“He was shaking and he was curled up,” Maguigad told the TV news program Balitanghali Weekend. “So I, as a medical professional, it’s automatic for me to think that he was having a fever.”
Maguigad and other concerned bystanders cordoned off the area, and he called the Red Cross Manila, the Manila Hospital, the 143 emergency hotline (the Philippines’ version of 911), and the San Lazaro Hospital, but everyone he spoke with allegedly came up with different excuses as to why they couldn’t help the foreign national. He also said that he called the police but they didn’t send anyone to check on the foreigner.
After a while, Maguigad said, the foreigner stood up from the ground and walked off, and left his possessions behind.
Of course, netizens’ imaginations ran wild as to the presumed Chinese national’s condition, but, one day after the video went viral, the Manila Public Information Office issued a post of its own, saying the rumors were “fake news,” and that the foreigner is in fact just a drunk Korean dude and not, you know, some kind of Wuhan virus zombie or whatever.
Manila cops said that the said foreigner personally showed up at a police station and expressed surprise that “there were photos and videos of him showing that he may have been infected by the virus.”
After netizens lambasted Maguigad, he made a public apology on his Facebook account but added that a system should be in place to ensure that victims get the help they need during an emergency (which is certainly a fair point).
“I would like to apologize for what my Facebook post yesterday has caused when all I wanted was to help and protect everyone,” he said. “I hope we could have the right process so that someone can receive help during a situation especially when the victim is a foreigner. There should be an appropriate agency whom we should call who can help and take [a patient].”
In a separate post, Maguigad said he was able to track down the Korean man, and wrote, “We both would like to apologize if we had made mistakes and offended the public and the authorities.”