By William Casis

Malacañang on March 23 mourned the passing of a cardiologist, an anesthesiologist and an oncologist who contracted COVID-19 while treating infected patients.

In a press statement, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo urged the public to pray for all health workers who risk their lives fighting the pandemic which has affected a total of 462 Filipinos, including 33 deaths.

Cardiologist Israel Bactol from the Philippine Heart Center, anesthesiologist Gregorio Macasaet III of Manila Doctors Hospital, and oncologist Rose Pulido of the San Juan de Dios Hospital succumbed to the virus in the last two days.

The Philippine Heart Association, in a statement on Sunday, announced Bactol’s passing, describing him as “a young, brilliant, promising doctor” and a “casualty of this war.”

Manila Doctors Hospital, in a separate statement, confirmed Macasaet’s passing, who was dubbed as “one of the best anesthesiologists in our country.”

Reports showed that there were also several doctors in critical condition while health workers and medical staff were made to undergo quarantine after exposure to infected patients.

The Medical City President and CEO Dr. Eugenio Jose Ramos said almost 150 health workers of the hospital exposed to the virus were also made to undergo quarantine.

Elsewhere in the capital, 530 medical staff of the University of Santo Tomas Hospital were also asked to undergo quarantine after being exposed to patients being treated or persons under investigation (PUIs), according to a statement issued to university’s official publication, The Varsitarian.