Hearing the everyday update about the coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) cases in the country seems just an ordinary rundown of numbers for most of us—and me. But that’s before my husband and I got contracted with the virus. It was May 26, 2021, when my husband tested positive for the antigen test – a test that is used to detect if a person is infected by the SARS-CoV-2 virus that is the cause of COVID-19. Though we prepared his quarantine stuff in case our fear will be confirmed because of his symptoms, we were still devastated when the result finally came out and removed our doubts.
 
I left him in a private hospital after knowing the result, I went straight home oblivious of how I actually got home. I was worried that if I caught the virus, who will look after our unico hijo? Or, worse, what if he had also been exposed to the virus? Just to settle the thought and the fear that I might have also been a virus carrier, I went back to the same private hospital the following day for an antigen test. I brought with me my stuff for a 10-day quarantine period. Despite the fever and other symptoms, I tested negative for the infection. Research shows that the virus could not be sometimes detected at an earlier stage. Hence, a 14-day quarantine is needed when someone has been exposed to it before he or she could be declared virus-free and can rejoin the community as a normal person.
 
Since the day my husband was brought to the facility, the Incident Monitoring Team (IMT) of the Puerto Princesa City Government has become my everyday caller, checking on our body temperature and other symptoms that I and my lad might have been experiencing. Five days after my first antigen test, I again submitted myself for the same test because I felt sick. This time, I didn’t prepare my quarantine stuff, and I didn’t go to the private testing center but to a facility established by the city government. As instructed by the local IMT, I went to the testing facility before 1 p.m. of June 1 and at about 9 p.m., an ambulance was already transporting me to a facility where my husband was being quarantined. I requested from the medical staff who was processing my treatment if I could just share with my husband’s room so that I could also check on his condition.
 
When I entered the isolation facility, I was excited to see my husband, whom I haven’t seen for five days. I learned that his was a severe case. He had difficulty breathing aggravated by his pneumonia. Every time he coughs, he was gasping for his breath. He almost couldn’t walk to the comfort room that I had to accompany him like a toddler attending to the call of nature. I learned that the night before I arrived in the facility, he had to be carried by four medical staff through a stretcher for him to be brought to a mobile clinic for an x-ray.  His oxygen blood level dropped at 85 where a normal reading is typically between 95 and 100.
 
I failed in holding back my tears. I never had any idea that he had been in that life-and-death situation. I thought he was just fine just like the last time I bade him goodbye in the hospital. Somehow, I was thankful that I was also infected by the virus because I was able to take care of him in the facility even if it meant that our 15-year-old lad has to brave himself to be left alone in our home while we are being treated in a public facility. Because of the prayers we received from family and friends, we were able to recover fast from COVID. My husband had been discharged five days ago from the facility while this is my last day.
 
I have three takeaways from my 10-day recluse: mindfulness of the pandemic, get tested for COVID, and don’t be part of the problem.
 
No one will take care of us but ourselves. So, follow health protocols: wear a mask, observe physical distancing, stay at home, and no unnecessary errands if we don’t want to fall prey to the virus.
 
If you have a scintilla of doubt that bothers you whether you have been exposed to the virus, go to the nearest medical facility or a testing center and have checked. It will cost you as much as 1,500 pesos, but that amount will give you peace of mind, and will also prevent you from being a virus spreader.
 
If you are not the solution (and we know it), at least, don’t be an added problem. This pandemic has already claimed more than 20,000 lives of Filipinos, and millions globally. In the city alone, the IMT has already recorded 60 deaths, and two days ago another five COVID fatalities were added to the statistics of casualties. Health is wealth, COVID is so real and it is fatal. Let’s guard ourselves and our loved ones from the virus, our invisible enemy before it strikes us and takes our last breath.

*****

Palawan News welcomes its new columnist Dr. Jennifier T. Diamante. She holds a PhD in Applied Linguistics from De La Salle University Manila and MA in English Language Teaching from Palawan State University. She is currently an assistant professor at the College of Arts and Sciences of Western Philippines University.

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