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Domestic helper may be the first Filipino to die of Covid-19 in Hong Kong

07 March 2022

By Leo A. Deocadiz 

Magelyn Distor Handoy, 53.

A domestic helper from Capiz is probably the first Filipino to succumb to the coronavirus in Hong Kong when she died a few minutes after midnight on March 6 at Caritas Medical Center in Sham Shui Po.

The official cause of death of Magelyn Distor Handoy, 53, has not yet been released but Bebelynn Rendon, a sister in law who talked to her by phone a day before she died, said Handoy had difficulty breathing when she told her she had tested positive for Covid-19.

She also said that Handoy's employer told her that she died of Covid-19.


One of Handoy’s nieces, Abby D. Michael, echoed Rendon’s observation: “Friday nag-usap pa tayo nhe sabi mo ok klang kahit ramdam ko na nahihirapan kana magsalita (Last Friday we even talked and you said you were okay, although I felt that you were already having difficulty talking).”

However, Consul General Raly Tejada said: "We shall await the official notification from the HK authorities to determine the official cause of death. We will be also meeting with the employer tomorrow. Consulate is now coordinating with the family in Panitan, Capiz."

Handoy had her second jab of the Sinovac vaccine last July.


Handoy, who arrived in Hong Kong in 2011 and lived with her last employers in Sham Shui Po where she took care of their two daughters, is survived by her husband, Richard and daughter, Faith.

In his post on her Facebook page, Richard said in Ilonggo that while it was painful to lose her and difficult to accept it, there was nothing they could do. He asked that she guide them always.

Isa na lang napangabay namon nga makapuli na di ikaw kag matagaan ka namon sang disente nga lubong (Our only wish is that you can come home here so we can give you a decent burial),” he added.


Her Facebook page also received condolence messages from relatives and friends.

Rendon said Handoy first complained of pain in her gums because of a broken denture. She was taken  to a doctor who prescribed medicines to stop the swelling and infection.

She later complained of abdominal pains, but since she had a history of fatty liver, she was given dietary advice. But the pain continued and when her employer noticed that her belly was becoming larger, she was taken to hospital by ambulance on Feb. 26. 


She was released the next day, Rendon said, but went to the house of her employer's mother to stay away from the children she was taking care of. 

On March 5, Congen Tejada said, Handoy was again taken to Caritas after complaining of breathing difficulties. "She subsequently tested positive for Covid-19," he said. 

Rendon said that she went to Caritas that morning to visit Handoy and bring her Anlene, a milk product to help her cope with fatty liver. But she wasn't allowed to see her sister-in-law as she had by then tested positive for Covid-19.

At 12:36 am on March 6, Handoy died. 

Tejada said: "She passed away... while undergoing treatment at the hospital’s emergency department."

Rendon said she was calling Handoy that morning but she was no longer answering. She contacted Handoy’s employer, who said the police had earlier informed her of the death.
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