Pampanga provincial health officer Dr. Marcelo Jaochico was the latest doctor who died while battling COVID-19, the Department of Health (DOH) said, as it reported 636 confirmed cases and 38 deaths from new coronavirus, with 26 recoveries.
The death of Jaochico, former doctor-to-the-barrios, was reported on Facebook by his daughter Cielo. It was later confirmed by the Pampanga Public Information Office head Joel Mapiles.
In her post, Cielo appealed to readers to remember her father not as someone who succumbed to COVID-19, but also one who had done so much for the province and for the country.
“When you speak of him, please speak only of good words. Please do not remember him as someone who just died because of COVID-19. Sobrang dami niyang ginawa para sa bayan. (He did so much for the country.) Please pray for his soul. Please pray for the souls of those who are still fighting,” she said.
Jaochico is the first doctor in the province to succumb to COVID19.
The lack of personal protective equipment places many health workers at risk to the highly-contagious disease.
Under the recently signed "Bayanihan to Heal as One Act," health workers who succumb to COVID-19 are entitled to a P -million death benefit each.
Health workers who would contract severe COVID-19 while performing their mandate will receive a compensation amounting to P100,000.
Meanwhile, DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the red band she was wearing is a show of solidarity to the frontline health workers who continue to serve the public during the COVID-19 outbreak.
"This is a sign of support to our health care workers especially those who died and those who have been fighting, who took care of patients in all hospitals here in the Philippines," she said.
“Our hearts and support are with you,” she said in Filipino.
The Health official said the data on COVID-19 cases in the country could be more reflective of the actual situation in the coming days as testing capacities is improving.
She said the results being made public so far were not timely. "They could be there already, and we are just running after them," she said.
"It might be an artificial rise so we are telling the public not to be surprised, " she also said. “In these coming days, when we are able to remove the backlogs, we will see the true numbers in the increase or decrease here in our country.”
In a statement sent to Senate media, Senator Aquilino Pimentel III said he tested positive for COVID-19, becoming the second senator after Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri to get the disease.
“I was informed late last night March 24, 2020 that I have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. The swab was taken last Friday, March 20, 2020,” Pimentel said.
Pimentel said he had tried his best to limit his movement since the last session day on March 11.
"I will call (to the best of my ability) those I remember meeting during those crucial days so that I can inform them of my test result,” the former Senate president said.
“I have quarantined myself upon the doctor’s advice and consistent with the protocol," he added.
He said he was hopeful he will recover soon.
He said he had many of the symptoms of COVID-19 – a fever, a cough, a slight sore throat, body pains and diarrhea on and off.
Pimentel also asked for prayers, especially for his wife who is about to give birth in the next few days.
His wife was scheduled to give birth by caesarian operation Wednesday morning (March 25), but the procedure was aborted after Pimentel informed the doctor about his test results.
Responding to the "bashing" he got on social media, assailing him for moving around a Makati hospital despite being positive for the virus, Pimentel said he still did not know about the test results at the time.
He was already in the hospital when he got a call from RITM Tuesday night, he said.
"So I immediately went home," Pimentel said.
The senator is married to chef Kathryn Yu after his first marriage to former Ms. Pilipinas-Universe 1998 Jewel May Lobaton, with whom he has two sons, was annulled.