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Person under investigation

(Story as posted on Facebook page of Harold Clavite - 20 March 2020)

On 18 March, I committed myself into a more rigid isolation after having spent five days in home quarantine. I have been classified a PUM (person under monitoring) when I came to Mindanao from Manila where I stayed for two weeks after arriving from the United States via Seoul in late February. While in Manila, I had several meetings in Quezon City, Pasay, Mandaluyong, Pasig, San Juan (Greenhills), and Cubao. I attended the registration day of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP). When mild symptoms persisted while in home quarantine, I thought it was just fair to completely isolate myself away from my 77-year old father, who is both diabetic and hypertensive, and the rest of the family. I made arrangements with the Department of Health while the barangay health emergency response team (BHERT) continued checking on me on a daily basis and monitoring my condition. I am now confined as a PUI (person under investigation) with flu-like symptoms in a #COVID19 medical facility, completely isolated from everyone. I am being taken care of by medical frontliners who have been doing such exhausting tasks since this outbreak began. My symptoms included cough and colds, sore throat, heaviness of chest. On Friday, I had slight fever which quickly went away and never came back. While Internet is very limited, I spend most of my time sleeping, reading, writing, and working remotely. I have read about solitary confinement in U.S. prisons and this one feels like it except, of course, without any brutal treatment from unforgiving jail guards. The medical team has been very nice and very efficient. I have no way of knowing how they look like though as each is equipped with protective gear and fully covered. When I first stepped into this facility at around 11 o'clock on Wednesday evening, it felt like I was in a psycho-thriller movie. Walking into heavily padlocked, gloomy, and poorly lit hallways, I was accompanied by fully covered hospital crew who never talked. While being escorted into the isolation wing, I observed two pairs of judgmental and suspecting eyes lurking from a ward across the dark hall. When our eyes met, the pale-looking, shorter woman shut the curtains. Another patient from the other side of the hall started rushing away when I walked in. I looked at the medical crew who then gave me an I-don't-care look. Entering Day 3, my COVID-19 tests were finally done and I am now awaiting results. A series of blood work have been completed since yesterday and the bloodsucking ninjas seemed to have fun taking away precious blood from me. A few minutes ago, a lanky ninja wheeled in a huge X-ray machine and took a picture of my ribs. I hope to get the results within five days as they promised. Meantime, I have to stay confined in the four walls of this desolate supernova. For those who came in contact with me for the past two weeks, I am not trying to scare you, but please take precautions. This is primarily the reason why I'm telling you my story. If possible, isolate yourself and minimize contact with family members. As much as possible, wear a mask, use separate utensils and personal stuff and ensure you disinfect your room, utensils, bathroom, kitchen, etc. ALL THE TIME. I have alerted the hotel where I stayed for a couple of nights and the house where I stayed in prior to spending home quarantine. If I turn out positive of the disease, I will let you all know immediately. And if I don't, life will go on and I'll go back to my pending task this week of helping monitor the progress of BHERTs in local communities in Lanao del Norte. There is no need to panic but if you're showing any flu-like symptoms, please inform your BHERT team right away or call a medical practitioner. You do not need to be hospitalized right away but take guidance from medical authorities. Most importantly, don't blame me or anyone. This virus is spreading like wildfire and it is our responsibility to proactively work against its massive transmission and put it away. Acknowledging the fact that there is a huge chance for ANY ONE of us to have it or already have it, helps you, your family and your community. Some people have not shown any symptoms but turned out positive carriers of this bug and many times in many other places, people have infected each other without them knowing it. It’s good to follow orders now— STAY HOME and minimize human contact. This is not a time to relax and do nothing. Cooperation and unity is a must. And, of course, we shall not give up. This is our chance to do something-- a chance to actually contribute to the preservation of humanity. And so that we can all go back to our normal lives, back to our homes, back to our families (and see a world where the tricycle thrives). #fightCOVID19 #SaveLives #flattenthecurve

(Note: Harold Clavite is former Undersecretary and Director-General of the Philippine Information Agency. As of this writing, he is confined in the isolation area and tested for COVID-19 at the Northern Mindanao Medical Center in Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines)

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