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A “caring and compassionate” nurse who moved from the Philippines almost 20 years ago to work for the NHS in Wales has died after contracting Covid-19.
Warm tributes have been paid to 51-year-old Rizal Manalo who died on Sunday, 14 June in the critical care unit of the hospital where he worked.
His death comes as concerns are raised about a disproportionate number of deaths among Filipino health and care workers in the UK during the pandemic, with some estimates placing the figure at more than 50. The issue is now being discussed at an international level, as reported previously by Nursing Times.
Mr Manalo, who was known as Zaldy to his colleagues and friends, had worked as a nurse on Ward 5 at Glan Clywd Hospital and previously at the Abergale Hospital.
He had worked for the Welsh NHS since August 2001 when he was recruited from the Philippines to North Wales.
He leaves behind two children, Nicole, 21, and Dylan, 16.
Colleagues and relatives of Mr Manalo have told of the “popular” and “dedicated” nurse that he was.
His wife, Agnes, said: “Zaldy is a hard-working person who loved his job dearly. He’s a good husband and a loving father to his children. He protected and cared for us.”
Karen Davies, a matron for Ward 5, added: “Zaldy would always greet you with a smile in the morning and always had a story to tell.
“He was a caring and compassionate member of the team, a true gentleman.”
Ms Davies told how he “loved to socialise and sing, especially taking part in karaoke”.
“He was a caring and compassionate member of the team, a true gentleman”
“A colleague and family friend said that Zaldy was known as their ‘kuya’, an old brother within the Filipino community,” she added.
“They also said how important his job was to him as he loved his work.”
Meanwhile, Alison Griffiths, director of nursing for Glan Clwyd Hospital, described Mr Manalo as an “endearing person who was very well liked and respected by all his colleagues”.
“He was passionate about nursing, dedicated to the profession, and always put his patients first,” said Ms Griffiths.
She added that Mr Manalo gave the team at the hospital “many fond memories and it was an honour to work with him”.
“He will be missed greatly, and forever in our hearts,” added Ms Griffiths.
“We offer our sincere condolences to his family at this time and hope that they are able to find comfort in the memories they have of him.”
In addition, Rab McEwan, managing director at the hospital, said: “Zaldy was a popular and respected member of the nursing team on Ward 5 and we will miss him greatly.
“He was passionate about nursing, dedicated to the profession, and always put his patients first”
“We are desolate, and send our deepest sympathies to Zaldy’s family, colleagues and friends.”
In a joint statement, Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board’s chief executive Simon Dean and chairman Mark Polin said: “We would like to express our sadness at this terrible loss and offer our deepest condolences to Zaldy’s family, his friends and his colleagues at Glan Clwyd Hospital.
“Zaldy will be sorely missed, and we are indebted to the care and service he provided the health board and its patients over the last 19 years.”
Mr Manalo joins a growing list of more than 200 health and social care professionals in the UK who have lost their life during the coronavirus pandemic. Nursing Times has created a memorial page to commemorate nursing staff who have died.
Last week fundraisers from across the globe raised more £20,000 to support families of Filipino health and care staff who died while working in the UK during the coronavirus pandemic.
Those involved in the initiative walked, ran and exercised a combined total of 11,000 kilometres – the distance between the UK and the Philippines – to symbolise the final journey home of those who had lost their lives.