(1st of 2 parts)
SINCE the middle of March, I have been covering office-related inter-agency interventions like the rollout of Rolling Stores in the various barangays of Baguio City and municipalities of Benguet Province. This program of my office is meant to keep residents from leaving their community just to buy basic items such as soap, cooking oil, rice and processed or canned goods through a partnership program that involves Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Agriculture (DA), local government unit (LGU)-Baguio and the municipalities in cooperation with accredited stores.
When the general community quarantine (GCQ) transitioned into a modified general community quarantine (MGCQ), allowing identified business establishments to operate at 50 percent capacity but observing strict health protocols and back to business operating guidelines like the maintenance of social distancing and thermal scanning of customers, we in DTI were involved in the inspections and monitoring as part of an inter-agency task force. As a media specialist, I have covered the monitoring and inspections of establishments like restaurants and barbershops following safety measures myself like wearing face masks, face shields, constant sanitizing of hands with alcohol and often wearing a coverall. We often go by teams especially in the city’s central business district (CBD) and to avoid joining the others in one vehicle, I often go on my own to cover rolling store activities in the Barangays using our family car.
As a frontliner, I had my first rapid blood test (RBT) on May 21, 2020, at the Rolling Store site itself together with the warehousemen, sellers and DTI personnel tasked to coordinate with the various venues and deal with the merchandisers. Sometime in June, we had a mandatory reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test or swab test, and its result yielded negative to all of us for Covid-19.
On August 28, 2020, I had a midday swab test conducted by the Philippine Red Cross and returned to my work before 1 p.m. to attend office-related training as information officer. During that day, there is a Covid-19 related lockdown within my neighborhood at Holy Ghost Proper so I wore my personal protective equipment (PPE) complete with face mask and face shield and walked home arriving around 6:15 p.m.
On August 31, my wife received a texted PRC swab test result saying that she is negative for Covid-19, and at around 2:30 p.m., I received a call from the City Health Office telling me that my swab test yielded a positive result. Since I was driving when I received the call, I let Helen answer my mobile, and thankfully, she did not panic knowing that I was not feeling any signs of discomfort or ailment.
Knowing the inter-agency protocols, we immediately rushed home to prepare things for my expected isolation and in no time at all, a contact tracing team with barangay officials were at our doorsteps clad in their PPEs for the inquiries. The interview started with where I was that morning and earlier days tracing my activities back to about two weeks before. Going over my mobile calendar and scanning my photo documentation, I told the contact tracing team that my last activity as a frontliner was when I joined a Department of Health (DOH), DTI and LGU-Baguio inter-agency inspection on seller’s compliance to set standard retail price (SRP) for non-medical face shields and the wearing of said protective gear as part of the back to work program under the MGCQ. Showing where I preferred to be isolated at the top floor of our house that has more or less the basic amenities like toilet and bath, my bid was granted by the health unit so I made a makeshift bed out of three equipment boxes.
Around 5 p.m., I texted and sent personal messages to people whom I had interacted earlier at the Sunshine Park for the launching program of the Kalasag Art telling them of my case and asking them to sanitize and fully wash their hands especially those whom I had knuckle-to-knuckle gesture.
The email that I received from the Philippine National Red Cross states “Your RT-PCR test results indicate that you have tested POSITIVE for Covid-19. Don’t be scared, 90 percent of Covid-19 cases are mild and asymptomatic.” To reduce the risk of spreading the virus, I was advised to isolate myself in a room, get enough rest, eat right, drink plenty of water, wear masks and face shields at all times, and have my own personal utensils. I was also told to observe social distancing and maintain a safe distance from everybody at least two meters away, practice proper hygiene and not share personal belongings with others. (To be continued)