A Filipino baby named after fallen American basketball legend Kobe Bryant is home with his parents in the Philippines after becoming one of the world’s youngest COVID-19 survivors.
Health care workers at the National Children’s Hospital in Manila handed Kobe Manjares –barely older than two weeks – to his father late Tuesday, savoring a moment of celebration before the pair sped away in an ambulance.
Nurses applauded and held up signs that read, “surviving COVID-19 at 16 days old” and “Kobe beats COVID.”
Named after Kobe Bryant, the former Los Angeles Lakers superstar who died in a helicopter crash in January, baby Kobe was born healthy at home on April 12, but rushed to the hospital five days later when he began to show troubling symptoms, relatives said.
“When we arrived we were brought to the emergency room. They did some tests. The doctor told me that if I want my child to get well, he has to be admitted,” the boy’s father told ABS-CBN, a Philippine news outlet. “I panicked but since the baby was already suffering, I decided to have him confined.”
ABS-CBN identified the father as Ronnel Manjares, who said he lost his construction job because of the pandemic and has been living with his family in another person’s home.
Hospital officials did not release details about how the baby contracted COVID-19 nor about his mother’s status.
The Philippines is one of the countries in Southeast Asia worst hit by the coronavirus outbreak, along with Indonesia and Singapore. President Rodrigo Duterte placed the entire island of Luzon – home to about 60 million Filipinos – on lockdown until May 15.
Duterte thanked the nation on Monday for patience in complying with strict quarantine measures, and hinted at the possibility of partially lifting them. Two days later, police and soldiers armed with automatic rifles patrolled areas around Manila as a top-level interagency committee studied the possibility of lowering quarantine protocols in some areas later this week.
On Wednesday, the number of people infected by COVID-19 rose by 254 to 8,212, while the number of deaths increased by 28 to 558. Globally, more than 3.1 million have been infected with the virus and more than 218,000 have died, according to data compiled by disease experts at U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.