Mers-Cov victim buried

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Friday, September 5, 2014

BACOLOD CITY -- The Filipina nurse who died of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Corona Virus in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia was laid to rest Thursday.

Gemma Barrilea Oplas, 45, resident of Cadiz City, Negros Occidental, passed away last May 6, 2014 after she got infected through her fellow nurse who was confined at their hospital in Saudi Arabia.

Her body arrived in Manila Thursday morning and was flown to Bacolod on the afternoon of the same day.


Bonifacio Oplas, Gemma’s husband, said in an interview that he is thankful that his wife’s remains were finally brought home four months after she died.

Oplas said that from the airport, they went directly to the Rolling Hills Memorial Park to lay his wife to rest.

He said the Department of Health advised him to bury his wife’s remains within 24 hours.

“We cannot open the casket because she died of a communicable disease,” Oplas said.

He said that a memorial park in Cadiz City did not allow them to bury his wife’s remains there.

The management told him that they want to protect the safety of Cadiz residents, he said.

Gemma, an emergency room nurse at the King Fahd Medical City, was scheduled to come home last March to attend the graduation of their 13-year-old daughter, who is an honor student. However, her vacation leave was moved to June. She went home last February 2013.

Oplas said his wife’s personal belongings were already sent to them through a courier.

Gemma started working in Saudi Arabia in 2001, and in 2005, she was hired by the King Fahd Medical City.

Oplas said their family has not yet received the P200,000 financial assistance promised by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration.

Aside from the amount, they will also receive P20,000 as burial assistance and P15,000 as livelihood assistance.

Their daughter will also be a granted an annual scholarship aid of P8,000, he added.

Earlier this week, the DOH confirmed that the second case of Mers-Cov in the country is now confined at the Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City. [Read the related story here.]

Health Secretary Enrique Ona said a 37-year-old nurse from Dammam, Saudi Arabia identified only as "AP" is confined at a hospital along with her family, which was placed under close observation.

In April this year, a 45-year-old Filipino male nurse also came home to the Philippines from the United Arab Emirates and learned of being positive of the Mers-Cov upon his return to the country despite undergoing tests in his workplace. (NLG with reports from PNA)

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on September 05, 2014.

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