MANILA - The novel coronavirus epidemic has claimed the lives of an elderly doctor and a migrant worker in Pangasinan province, north of the Philippine capital, local officials said Wednesday.
Dr. Henry Fernandez, a 77-year-old resident of Bayambang town, caught the respiratory disease from visitors from the US. He died at the Lung Center of the Philippines on March 20, Pangasinan health officer Dr. Anna De Guzman said in a text message to ABS-CBN News.
The doctor had symptoms 2 weeks after his visit with a relative in Manila, added Pangasinan Governor Amado Espino III.
A 70-year-old balikbayan in the province also succumbed to the respiratory disease, the governor said. It was not immediately clear if the fatality was among the relatives from the US who had visited Dr. Fernandez.
Pangasinan needs additional test kits to screen its 3 million residents for COVID-19, Espino said.
"Ang kailangan po namin ma-test po namin ang mga kababayan namin para maihiwalay namin sila at malaman nila sa sarili nila na nagdadala sila ng virus," Espino told DZMM.
(We need to test our residents so we can isolate them and they're informed that they're carrying the virus.)
Some 33 others are being monitored for suspected infection, 13 of whom remain in hospitals, he added.
Aside from Pangasinan's Dr. Fernandez, at least 3 other doctors have reportedly died of COVID-19, including cardiologists Raul Jara and Israel Bactol, and anesthesiologist Greg Macasaet.
The Philippines as of Tuesday confirmed 35 deaths and 20 patients who recovered out of its total 552 cases of the respiratory disease nationwide.
The entire Luzon, home to half of the Philippines' 100 million people, is under lockdown until April 12 to contain the pandemic.
With reports from Jamaine Punzalan and Gillan Ropero, ABS-CBN News