Via the blog Government and Taxes, an important post: On MERS CoV and OFWs. Click through for the full post and a photo. Excerpt:
This is my sister in law, Gemma Barilea-Oplas, holding my elder daughter Elle Marie, and beside her lone child, Lois, sometime in late 2010 in our province in Neg. Occ. Elle is now 7+ years old while Lois is 13 years old. Gemma is an OFW, a nurse in King Fahd Medical City (KFMC) in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) for more than a decade. It's a big Saudi government hospital.
Gemma died the other day. It was a fast death. Confined in the same hospital where she was working last Wednesday night (KSA time), she was able to call my younger brother, Bobong, to inform him of her situation. A tube was put in her mouth by Thursday, she accepted Bobong's call, their last conversation. ICU by Friday, renal failure and plummeting BP by Monday, dead by Tuesday, this week.
Bobong and Lois stay in Cadiz City, Negros Occidental, my hometown. He wanted to fly to Saudi, he went to Bacolod City last Monday for his passport application, was told that his passport will be released May 26. Too long, he contacted me, so I contacted a good friend way back in UP Diliman in the 80s, now DFA Assistant. Secretary Eddie de Vega for help. DFA responded with speed and efficiency, I am very thankful of them. But bad luck has taken over.
Yesterday, I got my brother's passport at DFA even though he will not fly to Saudi anymore. DFA Asst. Sec. Fred Santos personally attended to me. Thanks again ASec.
Gemma's death is suspected to be caused by the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome - Corona Virus (MERS-CoV): ASec Santos brought me to DFA Under Secretary Jesus Yabes' office, to ask how the DFA can help bring back the body. PH embassy in Riyadh has no knowledge about her death.
The hospital has imposed a news black out about her case, and most likely similar cases involving their sick staff. ASec Eddie and I are of course disappointed. How can the PH government, DFA in particular, deal with this, how grave is the problem, if some Saudi government hospitals have this poicy?
Maybe the hospital wants to further study the body whether it is indeed MERS-Cov or any other disease which caused the death. But they should have informed the PH embassy. The news black out policy by the Saudi government hospital, even if done temporarily, strengthens suspicion that the MERS CoV problem there could be worse that what the Saudi government would reveal to media and the public.