A patient under investigation (PUI) in Puerto Princesa City died Friday, according to city health officials. The exact cause of death, however, was not ascertained, as authorities said the patient’s family had refused to place the patient under hospital isolation and be subjected to tests for possible COVID-19 infection.

Dr. Dean Palanca assistant city health officer (CHO), said the deceased PUI, a 61-year-old male local city resident, died on April 3, several days after he was brought to the Ospital ng Palawan (ONP) for treatment.

The patient reportedly has no travel history or exposure to other COVID-patients. He was initially diagnosed with pneumonia and heart problems.

Dr. Palanca said the patient was admitted to the government hospital’s regular ward because the family refused that he be isolated and have a throat swab taken for COVID-testing.

“Dinala sya sa ONP dahil nahihirapang huminga at sya ay na-admit sa regular ward. The admitting diagnosis is pneumonia at problema sa puso. Ayon sa pamilya, walang history of travel at wala ring exposure sa COVID-patient,” Palanca said.

He explained that the patient was reclassified as PUI based on the protocol set by the Department of Health (DOH) because of his severe acute respiratory illness (SARI).

Upon the patient’s classification as PUI, Dr. Palanca said the family was urged to place him in isolation and for testing, which the family refused. Instead, he said the family issued a “certificate of refusal” and insisted that the patient be brought home, “against medical the advise.”

He said the patient was taken home by a COVID-transport team of the City Disaster Risk and Reduction Management Office (CDRRMO) and was regularly being visited by a health officer.

“Siya ay napuntahan two days after discharge, at ambulatory ito, nakakapag lakad-lakad at maayos ang kondisyon. Kinabukasan, binawian ng buhay sa kanilang bahay at hindi na dinala sa ospital at pinalibing na ito,” Palanca said.

The deceased PUI, who was a known smoker, reportedly also had hypertension and respiratory disease.

Meanwhile, Dr. Audie Cipriano, chief of the medical professional staff of Palawan provincial hospital, said that the doctors and nurses who had direct contact with the patient had already been placed under quarantine.

“For precautionary measure, pina-quarantine na namin ang mga doctors at nurses na nag-assist sa pasyente,” Cipriano said.

The local authorities urged the public to cooperate on the contact tracing now being done by the CHO.

“Nagsasagawa ang agencies ng masusing pag-iimbestiga at contact tracing. Makipag-ugnayan sa CHO at makioagtulungan,” Palanca said.

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is a desk editor and senior reporter of Palawan News. He covers politics, environment, tourism, justice, and sports. In his free time, he enjoys long walks with his dog, Bayani.