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LETTER TO THE EDITOR

No wonder we’re losing the fight against COVID-19

04:00 AM August 28, 2020

I am writing to narrate a personal encounter of how the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases and the local government failed in the fight against COVID-19, a micro-narrative in a macro-setting.

Our septuagenarian kasambahay (househelper) had a flu but without any accompanying cough. As a responsible citizen, I followed the Department of Health’s advice not to proceed immediately to overcrowded hospitals and instead observed our elderly househelper for another day. On the second day, I decided to bring our patient very early to the nearby barangay health center in Parañaque, only to encounter a swarm of people, sans physical distancing, waiting outside for the center to open.

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Since I had a vehicle, I decided to bring our patient to a midsize private clinic run by the religious in Makati, only to be advised that they could not accept us, without giving any reason. The clinic instead advised us to go to the nearby barangay health center. The center only prescribed flu medicines and told us our patient could not be tested because she was not a resident of Makati, and advised us to proceed to St. Luke’s Hospital instead.

Considering the huge costs involved at that moment, I proceeded to a Manila health center to seek advice, only to be told that all the test kits were reserved for the impending selective hard lockdown. We were advised to proceed to a private clinic at a nearby mall which conducts tests, only to be told that they also had run out of test kits. It was midday by this time, and we proceeded to another clinic in the same mall, only to be told that they only tested from 8 a.m. till 11 a.m.

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Exasperated, we went back to the center in Parañaque, to inquire about the possibility of a test. We waited for 45 minutes because they were still doing infant vaccinations, etc. The doctor, I was told, was virtual, and the barangay clinic had to wait for his availability to reply via phone consultation, thereby the long wait. We were advised to proceed to the barangay to get a schedule for tests.

The barangay referred us to the fire station personnel who were also assisting in the barangay, I suppose. They similarly apologized because the waiting period would be long as the kits had not arrived, and the waiting list was long. I had our patient rest for the rest of the day after an exhausting ordeal.

The next day, I brought our patient to a Baclaran private hospital. She had a rapid test, which was not rapid at all because it needed to be brought to their laboratory unlike the rapid test similar to the pregnancy test kit wherein the results are immediate. The result would only be available after three hours. Three nerve-wracking hours we had to endure. With God’s grace, the test was negative. Since it was just a rapid test, a confirmatory swab test was advised. I knew they were somewhat right, but I took the chance of not proceeding, as the rapid test was partially reassuring enough since for months we never went out of our abode.

It left me wondering that all the efforts I read and heard in the papers, the internet, and TV were somewhat quasi-fictional, pretentious, only for-show, considering the surreal adventure I had during the horrible days mentioned above. No wonder we are losing the battle against COVID-19. Everything is so confusing!

Renato B. Lucas, Ph.D.,
[email protected]

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TAGS: Coronavirus, COVID-19, COVID-19 test, health, IATF, pandemic, virus
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