The Philippine National Police (PNP) said it is investigating the case of a frontliner who died after accidentally inhaling disinfectant while undergoing decontamination at a quarantine facility in Pasig.
Police Captain Casey Gutierrez, RN MD, 31, was assigned to the PhilSports Arena quarantine facility for COVID-19 when he accidentally inhaled disinfectant after treating coronavirus patients.
Gutierrez died last May 30 at the Lung Center of the Philippines, 5 days after the incident.
PNP spokesman Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac confirmed Gutierrez’s death, saying the police is now coordinating with the Department of Health (DOH) for an independent investigation.
“Nakikiramay kami sa pamilya…Nakalanghap siya ng toxic chemicals. It could be mislabeling or mali ang pagkakalagay kaya nagkaroon ng ganitong insidente,” Banac said.
Banac confirmed that two other doctors are still recovering after inhaling the same disinfectant during decontamination protocols.
Shella Distor, Gutierrez’s wife, earlier said Gutierrez died of toxic inhalation injury and not from the coronavirus.
“He is not a COVID patient. He died out of negligence and incompetence. I was there at the ER of PNP [General Hospital] with him til the next day when he was transferred to the Lung Center til he died on the 5th day,” she said in a Facebook post.
“Umalis siya sa bahay healthy. Walang sakit, no co [morbidities], then bumalik siya sa mga anak namin nakakabaong na. OK na nga lang sana if COVID patient siya. He could have survived. So please! Stop spreading fake news!” she said.
“It’s traumatic for our kids. I am more than devastated. This could have been prevented. They should have protected [you], eh di sana andito kapa,” she also said.
Distor also questioned why PNP frontliners were not given swab tests for the coronavirus but only rapid antibody tests (RATs) as a requirement to return to work.
The World Health Organization earlier warned that spraying individuals with disinfectants is “not recommended under any circumstances.”
“This could be physically and psychologically harmful and would not reduce an infected person’s ability to spread the virus through droplets or contact,” said the WHO document.
Spraying chlorine or other toxic chemicals on people can cause eye and skin irritation, bronchospasm and gastrointestinal effects, it added./Stacy Ang