LONDON: These are the faces of Filipino nurses and medical workers who were the frontliners in the fight against COVID-19 in UK. At least 16 of them have already died.
We bring you some of their stories here:
'We are proud of her'
"We are proud of her." So said the husband of a Filipina nurse who died due to COVID-19 here on Good Friday. Amor Padilla Gatinao, 50, first felt symptoms of the respiratory disease last March 22, which fell on UK's celebration of Mother's Day, her husband Mario said.
Gatinao, a clinical nurse assessor at the Hammersmith and Fulham Clinical Commissioning Group, had fever for 2 more days. With no improvement in her condition, her husband drove her to the St. Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, where she was eventually confined.
Mario said he called for an ambulance for his wife as her situation did not improve. However, paramedics told the mother-of-3 to "stay at home and take paracetamol" because they can't bring her to the hospital, which was only admitting patients who need emergency care, he said.
"Masama ang loob ko. Ini-expect ko na maa-admit siya that time,” Mario told Philippine media (I felt bad. I was expecting that she would be admitted.) She was intubated and put in an induced coma on March 30 to help relieve her pain and labored breathing, and make it easier for her to get medicine.
“Sabi ko [sa kanya], 'Pray na lang tayo. Nandiyan ka na sa ospital at maaalagaan ka',” Mario told Filipino TV channel ABS-CBN. (I told her, let's just pray. You're already at the hospital, you'll be taken care of.)
But Gatinao, a nurse for 19 years, succumbed to the disease on Good Friday. Gatinao's family said they planned to bring her ashes to her hometown in Jaro, Iloilo. “She has achieved a lot while working for the NHS (National Health Service). We are proud of her. I’m proud of my wife,” said Mario.
Nurse Leilani Dayrit passed away on April 9, 2020. She was reportedly the fourth nurse from the Philippines who died from Coronavirus in the UK.
Dayrit gave 16 years of her life to the National Health Service of the UK.
He died alone
Donald Suelto, a Filipino nurse, also died in London recently. He died alone inside his apartment while in quarantine after being exposed to a patient positive for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). He was experiencing symptoms when he passed away but it has yet to be confirmed if he was positive for the disease. Photo from: Emylene Robertson
Relatives said Suelto was experiencing symptoms when he passed away. Suelto flew to London and work as a nurse 18 years ago. Suelto was not to keen about getting married as he was more concerned about his family in the Philippines.
On March 28, Suelto was advised to observe a one-week quarantine following an encounter with a COVID-19 patient in the hospital he was working in. Five days later, Suelto began to experience symptoms. He was having fever and on his supposed last day of quarantine, he sought an extension. On April 5, Suelto called his manager and asked to be transferred to a hospital. He called NHS 111 service but the emergency lines were busy probably due to the sheer number of COVID-19 patients and people under investigation for the disease in London.
That was the last known communication that Suelto had with any person, according to a relative who also lives in the UK.
He's only 23 years old
A young Filipino nurse is dead after working a 12-hour shift at a hospital in the UK. John Alagos, 23, had been taking care of coronavirus patients at the Watford General Hospital when he fell ill. The 23-year-old nurse is one of the thre Filipino healthworkers in the UK believed to have died of COVID-19.
The young Filipino has been working a 12-hour shift at the UK hospital and was reportedly unable to leave his post it was short-staffed, despite being ill. According to a report in the British press, his mother Gina Gustilo, had asked her son to come home, but was told he was not allowed by the hospital because it was short-staffed. “I asked 'why didn’t you come home?’” said Mrs. Gustilo. Gustilo also told the Daily Mail that her son had not been wearing proper PPEs during his shift.
Two Filipino hospital porters are also thought to have died after contracting coronavirus in Oxford.
The men, named locally as Oscar King Jr and Elbert Rico, were described as “popular and hard-working” members of the team at the city’s John Radcliffe hospital.
Tributes have been paid on social media to both men, who were married to members of the nursing team at the hospital, the trust said.
King Jr, believed to have worked at the hospital for 10 years, was described as a “beloved friend, loving husband, and devoted father” to his 10-year-old daughter.
His wife had also been taken to hospital after suffering severe symptoms.
A page set up for Rico said he had worked for the hospital since coming to the UK in 2004, adding that he “loved the work that he did”.
“He was always hard working and would prioritise others’ needs firsts. He would walk around the hospital with a smile on his face and very rarely would he call in sick from work.”
The news comes days after the death of Filipino nurse Leilani Dayrit, who worked at St Cross Hospital in Rugby.
Dayrit had worked for the NHS for 16 years and described her as a “ray of sunshine to those people who were fortunate to meet her”.
18,000 Filipinos with NHS
More than 18,000 Filipinos are said to be working in the NHS, third only to the numbers from Britain and India.
The Philippines also provided more nurses and clinical support staff than any other country outside of the UK, the study found.