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Philippines ambassador to Lebanon dies from coronavirus complications

Bernardita Catalla with journalists during her posting as Consul General in Hong Kong [Getty]

Date of publication: 2 April, 2020

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Ambassador Bernardita Catalla, 62, died in a Beirut hospital on Thursday after contracting Covid-19, becoming Lebanon's 15th coronavirus casualty.
The Phillipines' ambassador to Lebanon Bernardita Catalla died on Thursday from the novel coronavirus, the country's Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed.

In a statement published on its website, the DFA announced "with deep sadness [...] the untimely demise on 02 April 2020, of Ambassador Bernardita Catalla, Philippine Ambassador to Lebanon, from complications arising from Covid 19."

Catalla, 62, is the 15th person in Lebanon confirmed to have died from the virus, which has infected at least 479 people.

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"Bernie, as Ambassador Catalla was fondly called, has always lent a helping hand, to her family, friends and colleagues," the statement read.

"Her ever ready smile and infectious laughter may have been extinguished but her dedication to our country will always be there as a guiding light for all members of the Philippine foreign service," it added.

The statement honoured Catalla's 27 years of foreign service for The Phillipines, including in Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta and Hong Kong.

Catalla had spearheaded a voluntary mass repatriation programme of thousands of Filipino workers, who returned home as Lebanon's economy crashed in December 2019.

The embassy offered free tickets home to workers who had been stranded or had their wages cut as the Lebanese pound went into free fall. 

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