More nurses die of coronavirus as calls get louder for NHS staff to get more PPE

13 April 2020, 17:00

Two more nurses have died from coronavirus
Two more nurses have died from coronavirus. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

Two more frontline NHS nurses have died from coronavirus, it has been confirmed.

Melujean Ballesteros, 60, and Leilani Dayrit, both originally from the Philippines, perished after contracting Covid-19 in London.

The news comes as health bosses warned some hospital staff are facing a "hand-to-mouth" supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) due to hold-ups in China.

Some frontline staff have cited a chronic shortage of PPE, such as masks, since the pandemic took hold.

Ms Ballesteros died on Sunday at St Mary's Hospital in Paddington, London, just two days after being admitted.

Her son, Rainier, 37, said: "My mum is a dedicated and very caring nurse.

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"She started her career in the UK in 2003, she loved her work as a nurse."

Rainier, who lives in Calauag in the Philippines, said Mrs Ballesteros had a fever and cough in mid-March and self-isolated for nine days.

But on Friday Rainier said the family convinced her to visit the hospital due to her worsening condition, and so she was picked up by ambulance and was admitted.

Mrs Ballesteros is survived by her two sons, Rainier and Bryan, 38, who also lives in the Philippines, and husband Luis, 64, who lives in the UK.

Ms Dayrit, who was described as a "ray of sunshine", worked at St Cross Hospital in Rugby and died on April 7.

The news follows the deaths of two Filipino porters from John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, Oscar King Jr and Elbert Rico, who died on Saturday.

Ms Dayrit, who was described as a "ray of sunshine", worked at St Cross Hospital in Rugby, died on April 7.
Ms Dayrit, who was described as a "ray of sunshine", worked at St Cross Hospital in Rugby, died on April 7. Picture: PA

A Commons library report published last year found that more than 18,000 Filipinos work in the NHS, third only to the numbers from Britain and India.

Philippine ambassador Antonio Lagdameo, said: "Filipino health workers have served tirelessly and courageously at the frontlines of the war against this pandemic, and their contribution to the ongoing effort to save lives is nothing but immense.

"The escalation of confirmed Covid-19 cases and Covid-19-related deaths point out the undeniable truth that this disease is an existential threat even to the most healthy and fit among us."

A GoFundMe page was created by colleague Faz Ghooloo, lead nurse at St Mary's Hospital, to help raise funds for funeral costs.

In a touching tribute, Ms Ghooloo wrote: "Melujean was a kind-hearted person who dedicated her life to her profession as a nurse.

"She always had a smile and she never complained about anything."