BACOLOD CITY, Philippines – A 45-year-old Filipina nurse from Negros Occidental died of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) at the King Fahd Medical City in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Tuesday.
The information came from her husband whose name is being withheld.
The husband said the director of King Fahd Medical City informed him through a phone call that his wife died at 11:50 a.m. Saudi time (5:50 p.m. Philippine time).
The deceased was an emergency room nurse at the King Fahd Medical City, one of the most modern hospitals in Riyadh.
The husband said his wife succumbed to renal failure with very low blood pressure, symptoms of MERS-CoV.
She underwent dialysis a day before she died and had a bypass operation, he added.
The husband said he and his 13-year-old daughter will not go to Saudi Arabia to avoid possible contamination of the virus.
He had already given authorization to a friend of his wife, another Filipina nurse at the same hospital, to process all the claims, including her body’s return to Negros, he added.
The husband said he had made a formal request through email on advice of the hospital director to have his wife’s body frozen for two months and flown home.
“Because I was informed by our friend, who is also a nurse in Riyadh, that they don‘t practice cremation or embalming of the dead,” he said.
“I was also informed that MERS-CoV victims are frozen for two months, which is the incubation period and for the virus to subside. I want my wife to be buried here.”
The husband said he last spoke to his wife last April 30 and she informed him that she had pneumonia and was placed in quarantine for MERS-CoV.
After two days, he was informed that his wife had been transferred to the intensive care unit, he added.
The husband said his wife could have been spared of MERS-CoV if she had been able to go home in March this year, but her vacation was re-scheduled to the last week of June because the hospital lacks personnel.
“She was very excited to go home to attend to the graduation of our daughter who got an honor in their class,” he said.
The husband said his wife started working in Saudi Arabia in a different hospital in 2001 and transferred to King Fahd Medical City in 2005.
In February 2013, she went home and returned to Saudi Arabia after more than a month of vacation, he added.
His wife’s jewelry and personal belongings had been disinfected and would be sent home in a package.