• Pinoy Portal Europe

Young British-Pinoy dies of Covid-19 in London

Rest in Peace. Romeo Castillo, Jr. 29 Jan 1986-26 March 2020, 34 years old.

Credit: Photo from Facebook page

By Gene Alcantara, UK

LONDON – A young British-Filipino travel agent from Victoria, Central London has died from Covid-19 in London. At 34, Romeo "Romy" Castillo Jr., born in London, is the first Filipino to have died of the illness in the United Kingdom.

His death has left his immediate family devastated but they are holding on as both of the deceased’s brothers are also now under quarantine or isolation. Their parents have returned to the Philippines sometime ago to stay there for good and are now unable to travel back to the UK to be with their sons due to the travel restrictions under the lockdown.

“JR”, as he was fondly called, worked for a travel company in South London and apparently has just returned from a business trip from Mauritius, which he won in a sales performance competition. Upon his return to London last Monday 16th March, he began to show symptoms, according to his friends’ posts on Facebook. It was not however clear if he got infected before or during his brief stay in Mauritius.

JR was supposed to be coughing badly days after his return and experienced difficulty of breathing that developed into pneumonia. His family called an ambulance this Monday and brought him to Chelsea and Westminster Hospital but he did not survive the aggressive illness and sadly passed away Thursday 23 March in the morning.

Now the family in the UK and in Cavite will have to deal with the difficulty of not being able to hold a public wake for a few days to gather family and friends to pay their respects to the deceased according to Filipino tradition.

Unable to travel to the UK, his parents will have to deal with the pain of not being able to say goodbye to their son and take care of his other siblings. Apparently, the hospital regulations meant that as he died of this infectious disease, his remains must be cremated to avoid risk of infection.

His family has decided to keep his ashes in the UK for now until the coronavirus crisis situation has died down.

A close family member has given Pinoy Portal Europe permission to reveal the deceased’s identity to remind other Filipinos to take the quarantine restrictions seriously and stay home to protect others.

Meanwhile, Father Claro Conde, parish priest for seamen in Portsmouth, south England held an online mass to commemorate the life of JR.

A GoFundMe campaign has also now been set up to raise funds for JR's funeral and other expenses. JR or Romy, as he was known, "was one of the sweetest and kindest souls you could ever meet, with a smile that could light up the room", the GoFundMe blurb said. He was a loving son and brother, and "a generous and thoughtful friend to all those who had the privilege of knowing him". Anyone who wishes to contribute, please go to .

Covid-19 has already claimed 759 lives in the United Kingdom and 14,543 had been infected by the disease as of 5pm March 26 as reported by UK’s Department of Health and Social Care (DOHSC).

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