By Ben Rosario, Ellalyn de Vera Ruiz, and Roy Mabasa
A 65-year-old congressional staff died Friday due to the coronavirus disease (COVID 19) making him the second person in the House of Representatives to succumb to the dreaded disease.
At about 3:55 a.m. Saturday, Dr. Aileen Baviera, a professor and former dean of the UP Asian Center, died at the San Lazaro Hospital due to severe pneumonia caused by COVID-19.
In a bulletin, UP Diliman said, “It is with deep sadness that we inform you that Dr. Aileen SP Baviera, professor and former dean of the UP Asian Center and one of the country’s foremost sinologists, passed away today, March 21, 2020, 3:55 a.m., at the San Lazaro Hospital from severe pneumonia caused by COVID-19.”
“Our prayers and sympathies are with the family of Dean Baviera,” it added.
Baviera was an expert on contemporary China studies, Asia-Pacific security, territorial and maritime disputes, as well as regional integration.
Among her published works are the books Regional Security in East Asia: Challenges to Cooperation and Community Building, and the Comprehensive Engagement: Strategic Issues in Philippine-China Relations.
At the Lower House, the Office of the Secretary General sent a text message to House “members and employees” calling their attention to the case of a party-list solon who tested positive for COVID-19.
The message, re-sent to reporters covering the Lower House by at least two lawmakers, also indicated that the congressman’s staffer was taken ill and being tested for COVID-19.
It is not known whether the two congressional staff mentioned are the same person.
So far, four persons connected with the Lower House have contracted the disease. Of the four, two have died.
The second Lower House fatality was admitted to St. Luke’s Medical Center in Quezon City on March 10 “after developing low-grade fever.”
“He had no history of travel to any country with confirmed COVID19 case, and no known exposure to a confirmed case,” Secretary General Jose Luis Montales said.
Information also indicated that the congressional staffer reported to work on March 4 and attended a garden wedding in Almanza, Cavite on March 7.
After confinement on March 10, he was sent home after tests conducted by the medical staff showed normal results.
On March 13, he was rushed anew to St. Luke’s after his fever failed to subside and was immediately isolated.
“He was transferred to the ICU on March 15, was considered a person under investigation, and underwent testing for COVID-19,” Montales said.
New cases Meanwhile, two more Filipino nationals tested positive for COVID-19 in Singapore, bringing the total number of confirmed cases among Filipino nationals in Singapore to 13, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Friday. Citing information from the Singaporean Ministry of Health (MOH), the Philippine Embassy in Singapore confirmed that the 12th and 13th Filipino nationals are currently confined in hospitals.
Of the 13 Filipino nationals who contracted the disease, two have already been discharged, the Embassy said.
Two more Filipinos – one in Kuwait and one in South Korea – have tested positive for coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the DFA reported.
DFA Undersecretary for Civilian Security Brigido Dulay said these two separate findings are considered first cases involving Filipino nationals in both Kuwait and South Korea.
The Philippine Consulate in Hong Kong also confirmed that another Filipino who recently tested positive for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has been discharged from the hospital Friday, leaving only one Filipino COVID19 positive patient in hospital isolation.
The Manila Infectious Disease Control Center (MIDCC) an isolation ward that formally opened Tuesday will have additional 22 rooms to be “one step ahead” in the fight against the disease.
“We’re trying to cope with the challenges and we’re trying to be (one step) ahead of COVID-19,” Manila City Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso said in his city address Thursday evening.
Currently, there are 14 available rooms in the MIDCC. Domagoso said five out of six district hospitals in Manila are preparing additional isolation wards for COVID-19 patients.
The MIDCC is located at the 10th floor of the Sta. Ana Hospital. Six hospital physicians, who are experts on infectious diseases will man the MIDCC.
Evacuation centers Meanwhile, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) said 125 evacuation centers nationwide will be turned into health facilities that can accommodate thousands should COVID-19 cases increase.
DPWH Secretary Mark Villar said 110 evacuation centers are already being prepared for conversion. They will be able cater to the needs of some 4,620 patients, “considering the 12-square meter per patient latest safety measure of the Department of Health (DOH).”
The evacuation-cum-health centers are in Quezon City, Butuan, Cebu, Isabela, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Kalinga, Cagayan de Oro, and Zambales provinces.
The newest evacuation center is in Fairview, Quezon City, which is now already being used as Emergency Operation Center by the Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office in the National Capital Region.
DPWH Undersecretary Emil Sadain said aside from the existing 110 centers, they will also convert 15 more units which can accommodate 630 patients.
“Thirteen of them [are] only in need of water or power connections by concerned local government units, and two others need some minor corrections by DPWH,” the department said in a statement. (With reports from Minka Klaudia S. Tiangco and Joseph Almer Pedrajas)