A police doctor from the Philippine National Police recently died while serving as a frontliner in the country's battle against the COVID-19 outbreak. Local reports confirmed that he died after accidentally inhaling a toxic disinfectant.

Police Captain Casey Gutierrez used to work as a physician at a private hospital. He gave up his career to serve the country as a police officer.

Police Captain Casey Gutierrez
Captain Casey Gutierrez with his family Photo from Shella Distor's Facebook page

Serving As A Frontliner

Due to his medical background, Gutierrez was assigned to work as a police doctor at the Philippine Sports Arena, which was converted into a quarantine facility for patients infected by COVID-19.

On May 24, after attending to a patient, Gutierrez was sprayed with disinfectant as part of the facility's safety procedures. Unfortunately, Gutierrez accidentally inhaled the disinfectant sprayed, causing him to fall ill. According to local news agencies, Gutierrez died on May 31, five days after the incident.

Confirming Gutierrez's Cause Of Death

A spokesperson from the PNP confirmed to the news site Rappler that Gutierrez died due to the "accidental inhalation of toxic disinfectant." As indicated in the report, the disinfectant used on the police doctor might have been too concentrated, which could have resulted in massive pulmonary embolism.

An anonymous source told news agency Philippine Star that the chemical used in the disinfectant was sodium hypochlorite, a chemical commonly known as bleach. Although Gutierrez was wearing personal protective equipment when he was sprayed, inhaling the chemical in its concentrated form is still enough to cause serious health complications.

Disinfectants sprayed
Disinfectant sprayed on a street Screen Grab/YouTube

Similar Cases Involving Toxic Disinfectant

Unfortunately, Gutierrez was not the only police officer affected by the toxic disinfectant at the same quarantine facility. A police report indicated that on June 1, two medical personnel of the PNP became sick after they were sprayed with disinfectant as part of a decontamination procedure.

Gutierrez's life partner, Shella Distory, who is also a medical practitioner, raised her concerns regarding the safety measures being implemented at the quarantine facility after hearing about what happened to the two police officers. "I did not want to talk but this happened again to other people," Distor said, according to the Philippine Star.