By Minka Klaudia Tiangco
The Department of Health (DOH) reported Monday afternoon more coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases, raising the number to 462.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that out of the 462 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Philippines, 18 have already recovered.
She also reported that eight more virus patients died since Sunday afternoon, bringing the total number of COVID-19-related mortalities to 33.
He died serving Filipinos
Among the latest casualty of the COVID-19 is Dr. Greg Macasaet, an anesthesiologist from the Manila Doctors Hospital who died Sunday morning.
In a statement released Sunday afternoon, the Manila Doctors Hospital said Macasaet, “one of the best anesthesiologists in our country,” was a frontliner who treated a patient who eventually died due to COVID-19.
“We honor a brave man who lost his life in this war,” the statement read. “He lost his life in the service for the Filipino people and our country.”
Macasaet left behind his wife, also an anesthesiologist who also reportedly tested positive for COVID-19, and his son.
Earlier, the Philippine Heart Association (PHA) announced the passing of a young cardiologist due to COVID-19.
“It is a sad day for the whole association as we have lost one of our own in the fight against COVID. He is a casualty of this war,” the group’s statement read.
“We honor him as he lost his young life while fulfilling his duties as a doctor, a young cardiologist and a dedicated member of PHA,” it added.
The Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM) also issued a statement on the death of a College of Medicine alumnus, who was a doctor to the barrio.
PLM said in a statement that the alumnus “chose to serve the country but lost his life in the fight against COVID-19.”
“He was a scholar whose humble beginnings guided his future. He was a doctor to the barrio and a hero,” the statement read.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III confirmed the death of the three doctors.
“Saludo ang mga Pilipino sa mga pumanaw na health workers (The Filipinos salute the health workers who passed away),” he said in an interview with DZBB on Monday.
Earlier on Saturday, the DOH said that the public should expect an increase in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases.
“Ito pong darating na mga araw, alam ko po ikakagulat ng marami ang biglang pagtaas ng kaso natin, ito po ay sa kadahilanan na marami na po tayong mailalabas na test results dahil ang testing capacity ay na expand na po (In the coming days, the public may be in for a surprise over the sharp increase in the number of confirmed cases as the DOH will be able to release more results due to the increase in testing capacity),” said Vergeire in a press briefing Saturday afternoon.
Vergeire said the DOH-Epidemiology Bureau was already instructed to collate the data on the number of health workers who have tested positive or now under quarantine for COVID-19.
“With this process that they do, they face the risk of getting infected. If you noticed, a big percentage of those infected by COVID-19, even in other countries, are health workers,” said Vergeire.
The health official appealed to patients to fully disclose all necessary information to their attending medical personnel when seeking consultation to help protect our health workers.
Not all patients need confinement
The DOH also clarified on Sunday that not all patients afflicted with COVID-19 have to be admitted in medical facilities.
Vergeire said COVID-19 patients with mild symptoms or those who are asymptomatic are allowed to undergo quarantine at their respective homes as long as health authorities can assure they have a place for self-isolation in their homes. It means, there is a room exclusively for the patient.
Aside from having their own room which will serve as an isolation area, the patient must also ensure that he or she will have minimal interaction with family members.
Third, there should be no senior citizen and member of the family with underlying condition living with the patient.
“One of the objectives of the government now is to separate asymptomatic cases from severe and the vulnerable population. The local government units play a role in the implementation of these measures and health protocols,” she added.
Ex-TransCo president succumbs to COVID-19
Meanwhile, Dr Alan Ortiz, the first president of the National Transmission Corporation (TransCo) when it was spun off from the National Power Corporation, succumbed to complications after contracting COVID-19.
Ortiz, who had also served as president and chief operating officer of the power investment arm of San Miguel Corporation (SMC), reportedly travelled to China and Russia; and onward to Paris, France where he had fallen ill of the fatal disease.
“We entrust him completely to God and we give thanks for the blessings that God has given us through the abiding and steadfast love for our Papa,” a message from his family stated.
The family message added, “We grieve our loss and celebrate the life that God had blessed him with,” adding that “all the days of our lives, we will miss him, his laughter, his intelligence and his sense of adventure.”
The family then thanked “everyone who has stood by us,” and appealed “to pray for his eternal rest.”
At TransCo, Ortiz was instrumental in packaging the privatization of the country’s power transmission assets – which was eventually won via a 25-year concession agreement by the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines.
And during the crafting of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA), he was also among the “main architects” behind the reforms that were instituted in the electric power industry – as he was then working as adviser to former Senate President John Osmeña, one of the principal authors of the EPIRA.
Aside from his stint at TransCo and SMC Global Power Holdings Corp., Ortiz also served as board adviser to the Philippine National Oil Company-Energy Development Corporation (PNOC-EDC), prior to its privatization and sale to the Lopez group. (With a report from Myrna M. Velasco)