MANILA - The Philippines' first COVID-19 fatality was a "healthy and fit" woman before she contracted the disease that led to her death, the patient's daughter said Friday, as she encouraged the public to take precaution against the new strain of coronavirus.
Nida Paqueo, known in the news as "PH35," just celebrated her 67th birthday before she died of pneumonia, believed to be worsened by the virus that originated from Wuhan, China, her daughter Liza said in a Facebook post.
"My mother Nida Cortes Paqueo died shortly after her 67th birthday. She was healthy and fit. She went into the hospital on March 5 with localized pneumonia," Liza said.
A couple of days later, Liza's father was admitted into the hospital, and soon, Mr. and Mrs. Paqueo both tested positive for COVID-19.
"They have not traveled anywhere domestically or internationally. They have not been to Siargao, Singapore, Australia, etc," she said.
"No one knows how they contracted COVID-19, but Manila is a crowded, internationally mix city of 13 million people. Speculations as to where they got it from is unknown, and we are leaving that to the Department of Health (DOH)," she said.
The elderly couple were 2 of the 64 patients in the Philippines who tested positive for the disease. Aside from Nida, the Philippines listed 4 other COVID-19-related deaths.
Expressing her grief, Liza said it was painful to learn of her mother's death while she was miles away.
"My beautiful mother, Nida, was cremated. She died alone without her loving family and friends around her. She was cremated, alone, without ceremony or tribute," Liza said.
"It has been painful not just for my nuclear family but for all our extended relatives and friends who love my parents and cherished my mom."
Liza also mourned for her father who is "well" but is alone while in "deep grief."
"My father is alone as well. He is at a Manila hospital, in stable condition and in quarantine. But he is in deep grief over the loss of his wife of 47 years--the love of his life," she said.
Liza and her brothers are all in the United States and were not allowed to fly home to console and care for their 72-year-old patriarch as several countries have imposed travel bans to curb the spread of the virus that has killed nearly 5,000 others worldwide.
While spreading misinformation about the death of Mrs. Paqueo is "counterproductive, libelous and ignorant," Liza said not minding early symptoms of the COVID-19 could "also be dangerous to public health and welfare."
"If you have a fever and a cough, please report to the Department of Health," she said.
"Our family has been in constant communication with infectious disease specialist, medical professionals and with each other to be socially and medically responsible," she said.
"It is the responsible thing to do. There is no stigma with this disease," she said.