(UPDATED) The provincial health office has declined to disclose the personal details of the “probable” COVID-19 patient (previously classified as a patient under investigation or PUI), who died at the Ospital ng Palawan (ONP) Wednesday night while awaiting official laboratory test results.
Dr. Mary Ann Navarro said the 63-year-old female who has been classified as a “probable” coronavirus case expired on the night of April 15 at the Ospital ng Palawan (ONP) with her test results still pending at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM).
“Hindi namin puwedeng sabihin yong munisipyo na pinanggalingan niya. Galing siyang munisipyo, tapos hirap ng huminga. Sa dinaanan niyang ospital, na-intubate na siya. Pangit na yong kalagayan niya before siya nadala dito sa Puerto Princesa City… I think, either Monday or Tuesday, tapos in serious condition na siya,” Dr. Navarro said.
The 4th COVID-19 case to have died pending test results from the RITM had a severe acute respiratory illness (SARI) when she was brought to a municipal hospital and then transferred to the ONP, she said.
Dr. Navarro also said she had no travel history and was not exposed to any COVID-19 positive patient.
“SARI siya na wala namang travel history. ‘Probable’ case siya kasi na-test naman siya, pero awaiting result pa. Yong result dapat kahapon (April 15) pa. Pina-follow-up ko nga din, pero wala pa rin daw,” Dr. Navarro said.
Noel Orosco, the regional epidemiologist of the DOH, said she was admitted on April 12.
“Na-report na sa amin from the hospital. Nag-umpisa noong April 8 ang cough, colds, and sore throat lang. Tapos walang travel history sa record niya. Na-admit noong April 12, parang apat na araw pa lang yong signs and symptoms and then, nakuhanan naman siya ng specimen noong April 12 din,” he said.
However, he said her specimens were only sent to the RITM on April 14.
“Ang hirap kasi ng travel natin ngayon sa Palawan. Although April 12 nakuhanan, April 14 lang napadala sa RITM. Ipa-follow up pa namin, pero yon nga, namatay kagabi,” Orosco said.
Meanwhile, Dr. Navarro said they prefer cremation in the handling of the remains of the deceased “probable” COVID-19 patient because there is a facility in Barangay San Jose.
Dr. Navarro said cremation is along with the protocol of the Department of Health (DOH) in handling COVID-related deaths.
Since the facility is private, the patient’s family is expected to shoulder cremation expenses, but the government can help through the social welfare and development office.
“Private kasi yon, dapat relative and magbabayad. Pero kung kapos sila, puwede naman silang ilapit sa DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) para mag-ask ng assistance,” she said.
Dr. Navarro reminded residents of the city and province to take the “stay at home” preventive measure seriously to avoid contracting the deadly disease.
“Reminder natin sa mga tao na stay at home. Huwag tayo maging kampante, kasi paano kung maging positive ito? Paano ngayon? Tapos tayo kampante, kung saan-saan pumupunta yong mga tao. Nagsisipaglabasan, nakakalat na sa kalye. Extended tayo kasi nga nag-iingat tayo, ayoko rin malusutan tayo. Kailangan din nating ingatan ang mga health frontliners natin. Paano kung dumami ang kaso? Mahihirapan tayo,” she said.
The patient’s son, who sought anonymity, said Thursday in an interview with Palawan News that his mother expired around 9:22 p.m.
“Inaantay ko pa rin ang mga resulta, saka na malalaman kung ano ang gagawin kay nanay. Kung iuuwi ko na siya sa El Nido, baka naka-cremate na. Dalawa lang daw ang gagawin, ike-cremate o ililibing aged,” he said.
He said he was advised by the doctor to take care of himself, despite following the “social distancing” policy imposed on him by the hospital while he was taking care of his mother.
“Wala namang sinabi ang ospital. Habang nagbabantay naman ako kay nanay, may social distancing naman. Sinabi lang ng doctor na bantayan ko ang sarili ko, at tatawagin lang nila ako kapag kailangan.”