Philippines confirms second COVID-19 death, new cases in Visayas, Mindanao

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A 67-year-old Filipino woman is the second COVID-19 patient in the country to die of the disease.

The Department of Health (DOH) announced last night that case PH35 was receiving treatment at the Manila Doctors Hospital in Ermita. She first showed symptoms on Feb. 29, and tested positive for the virus on March 11. The Filipina did not recently travel out of the country before she was infected.

As of this morning, the DOH has yet to release more details about the 67-year-old patient.

The country’s first coronavirus death was that of a 44-year-old Chinese man from Wuhan, who was also the first recorded COVID-19 death outside of China. His wife and another Chinese national — all from Wuhan — tested positive for the virus on Jan. 30. They were the Philippines’ first and only recorded cases for weeks until early this month, when a slew of patients tested positive for the virus, bringing the country’s total cases to 49 as of this morning.

The 49 confirmed cases include Visayas and Mindanao’s first confirmed cases: PH39, a 64-year-old man initially treated at Ace Dumaguete Doctors Hospital, and later transferred to Silliman University Medical Center; and PH40, a 54-year-old man treated at the Northern Mindanao Medical Center in Cagayan de Oro City.

Dr. Ian Gonzales, DOH-Northern Mindanao Infectious Diseases Cluster head told SunStar Philippines that PH40 was treated in Iligan City, and was later brought to the Cagayan de Oro hospital. “The travel and contact history of the man is still being validated,” he added.

PH39, meanwhile, had recently traveled to Greenhills, San Juan for a meeting. One of the first few patients, PH5, used to frequent the Greenhills Masjid, which has since been disinfected and temporarily closed by the local government. The DOH is looking for other people who used to visit the prayer hall. PH5’s wife was also discovered to have been infected.

Meanwhile, the DOH also confirmed last night that 442 of the 445 passengers from virus-hit Diamond Princess cruise ship have completed their quarantine at New Clark City (NCC) in Tarlac and have been released. Of the 445, two crew members (PH25 and PH26) have tested positive for the virus, and have been referred to the Jose B. Lingad Memorial Regional Hospital in San Fernando City, Pampanga. The department did not specify the status of the 445th returnee.

The DOH maintained that it is “continuously monitoring the statuses of all patients to ensure that no complications arise throughout their recovery.”

With panic over the new cases taking off, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III acknowledged yesterday that the declaration of a state of public health emergency should have come much earlier and that he should have declared it himself, GMA News reports.

“Being a member country of the WHO, we let them declare public health emergency of international concern. That is the de facto declaration on my part,” Duque said.

The WHO declared COVID-19 a matter of international public health emergency on Jan. 30, on the same day that the Philippines recorded its first confirmed coronavirus case.

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