The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) confirmed yesterday that a Filipina nurse had died from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Tuesday.
“Our welfare officer in Riyadh has confirmed the case. She is an OWWA member,” said OWWA administrator Carmelita Dimzon.
She said the family of the nurse is entitled to death benefits, livelihood assistance and scholarship for her children.
There are now three Filipino nurses in the Middle East who died of MERS. The first patient died in Riyadh last August, and the other in United Arab Emirates last month.
“Our main concern now is whether the body will be repatriated or be buried there. If her family will decide to bring back the body to the Philippines, OWWA will assist them,” Dimzon said.
Lyndon Lee Suy, program manager for Emerging and Re-Emerging Diseases of the Department of Health, said there are two procedures being observed in bringing home a Filipino who died abroad from infectious diseases like MERS.
He said one is the use of hermetically sealed coffin, which can still be opened for viewing because it has a glass cover, and cremation.
He said the same procedure was observed during the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) more than a decade ago.
Meanwhile, a source told The STAR that some Filipino nurses in Saudi Arabia have stopped working in emergency units of hospitals where there are MERS patients.
“A friend (in Riyadh) posted on Facebook a photo of a vacated emergency unit. They have not reported for duty for they fear for their own safety,” the source, who is from Negros Occidental and works in Riyadh, said. – With Danny Dangcalan