Filipino nurse in London found dead alone while in COVID-19 quarantine

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 17) – A Filipino nurse based in London died in his flat alone while undergoing quarantine due to his COVID-19 infection. Police discovered his body after his niece pleaded the cops to check on his uncle who was living alone.

Donald Suelto, 51, had been working for the National Health Service in London for the past 18 years, his niece Emylene Suelto-Robertson narrated in an interview with CNN Philippines’ Pia Hontiveros.

Robertson said her uncle contracted the fatal virus after being exposed to one of his patients who tested positive for the disease.

“He didn’t have personal protective equipment and the patient was coughing in front of him,” she said.

When Suelto registered a high body temperature, he reported it to his manager and subsequently got a swab test. The doctors ordered him to go on a week-long isolation on March 28.

Suelto did not experience any COVID-19 symptoms early on his self-home quarantine. But on the fifth day, he told Robertson that he had a sore throat. He complained of fever the next day.

“I advised him to go to the hospital and he contacted his manager,” recalled Robertson, who lives in Scotland which is an hour away from London by plane.

Suelto did call his manager on April 5, but he was advised by his boss to instead call the London hotline NHS 111, which allows patients to get urgent healthcare online.

Robertson added his uncle's calls went unanswered probably due to the high volume of COVID-19-related calls.

“I was trying to contact him Friday, Saturday, and Sunday," she told CNN Philippines. "I was trying to contact but he did not answer so I was like expecting he was already in the hospital."

On April 7, a friend of Suelto contacted the police to check on his flat. But the police insisted there was no one in the house and that they are not allowed to barge in.

Robertson then called the police, introduced herself as family and pleaded them to break into his uncle’s flat. As the authorities barged inside the house, they found the lifeless body of Suerto.

The London police called their Scottish counterparts to break the shocking news to Robertson.

“The procedure was really very tough for us because there was no direct contact after we were informed that he was found dead in his house," Robertson lamented. "It was like we were chasing so many numbers from different corner court in London because no one advised what the procedure was after they found my uncle dead."

Robertson said she would remember her uncle's dedication to his profession and devotion to their family.

The niece added Suerto did not marry because he supported his four nieces and nephew in the Philippines. He also left behind his 77-year-old mother back home.

“He was really a dedicated worker," Robertson said. "He is devoted to his family and he loved his job."