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Published On: Wed, Sep 18th, 2013

Filipina nurse, working in Saudi Arabia, first confirmed MERS death from Philippines

A 41-year-old female nurse from the Philippines working in Saudi Arabia, died in a Riyadh hospital late last month from the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), according to a report in the Philippine news source, Rappler Tuesday.

 Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) Image/CDC

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV)
Image/CDC

The report notes, “The Philippine embassy in Riyadh obtained a medical report confirming that the Filipina “tested positive for the corona virus before her death,” said Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesman Raul Hernandez on Tuesday, September 17.”

GMA News reports:

The hospital’s VIP ward supervisor said prior to her death, the Filipina went to the United States for a vacation on July 13. She returned to Riyadh on July 19 and reported for work on July 21.

In mid-August, she complained of fever and coughing and developed respiratory distress. She was put on a ventilator on Aug. 22.

Two days later, she was diagnosed with severe pneumonia and had to be transferred to the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit.

In a media statement from the Saudi Arabia Ministry of Health dated Sept. 5, officials there say, “the MOH has announced that two cases passed away. The first case is for a 41-year-old female resident working in the health sector in Riyadh.”

The case was announced in a World Health Organization Global Alert and Response on Sept. 7, but the nationality was not revealed.

Personal details such as the woman’s name and hometown have not been released; however, Rappler reports her family has already been informed of her demise and the DFA is awaiting the Department of Health’s guidance regarding the repatriation of her remains.

Both news sources say that another Filipino is confirmed positive for MERS and is also admitted to the hospital and apparently recovering.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has advised health workers and health care facilities to remain vigilant for MERS-CoV.

Health care facilities are reminded of the importance of systematic implementation of infection prevention and control (IPC). Health care facilities that provide care for patients suspected or confirmed with MERS-CoV infection should take appropriate measures to decrease the risk of transmission of the virus to other patients, health care workers and visitors.

The latest global numbers from the WHO dated Sept. 7 say there has been a total of 114 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV, including 54 deaths; however, this number has not been updated in two weeks and is somewhat higher.

Saudi Arabia, and the Middle East in general, is home to many overseas workers from the Philippines, including health care workers like nurses and medical technologists.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is viral respiratory illness first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012. It is caused by a coronavirus called MERS-CoV. Most people who have been confirmed to have MERS-CoV infection developed severe acute respiratory illness. They had fever, cough, and shortness of breath. About half of these people died.

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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