Quarantine Facility in the Philippines – My COVID-19 experience

It’s my 6th day since I got admitted here in Araullo High School Quarantine Facility located in UN Avenue, Ermita. I am going to share my experience here for you to know what to expect after you got the virus if you are a resident of Manila city. Prior to admission in this quarantine facility I experienced the symptoms of Covid-19 which I contracted from working on site and exposed to someone who has it. On a Friday I was experiencing soar throat. It hurts so bad and I was not feeling all well. I felt weak and I had chills even it was hot that day then cough and stuffy nose followed and I could hardly breathe. My sense of taste and smell were gone. I requested to be tested the following day and on Sunday I received the most awaited report that coronavirus RNA was detected during my swab test. I had it done at Philippine Red Cross port area and paid Php 3,800.00 for it. Please be informed that you need a booking appointment for the test. After 24 hours I received the result.

RT-PCR Result came after 24 hours. Receiving the email from Red Cross got delayed.

The day I knew I was positive of Covid-19, as a protocol, I informed our company and then the LGU. LGU means Local government unit which is the City hall of Manila in my case. It’s called MEOC – Manila Emergency Operations Center for the Covid-19 related response. It had to be coordinated with the Barangay in my address. They assigned me to the available nearby quarantine facility. I waited for the whole afternoon as I already isolated myself in the room. You should be already isolated even if you are still waiting for the swab test result. At last at around 8 pm in the evening that day an ambulance picked me up in my place. I had my stuff prepared before coming to a quarantine facility. These are basic necessities such as clothing for 10 days, toiletries, food, 6 liters of water and I also brought pillow, linen and bedsheet in case they are not provided. The barangay official did not inform me the name of facility beforehand. For your sake, just get the details of the facility.

Going to a hotel or hospital is not an option for me. You see hospitals during pandemic would be the last place you would like visit because you are less likely to be accommodated as there are overflowing number of patients. Booking a hotel is a long shot as well because it’s limited and you might have to shell out some additional expenses by yourself. I believe quarantine facilities are made for the people with mild symptoms so that they will still be taken cared of and at the same time isolated from the society to prevent the spread of the virus. Hence, always have your PHILHEALTH card with you.

From the ambulance itself the ride is not okay and it doesn’t look like a real ambulance inside because there are no equipment of sort for emergencies. The workers in that ambulance even asked me to shut the door which I could not further do because I felt weak. And the sliding door just stuck. The health care in the Philippines is really behind from other developed countries. It is unfortunate that the government does not prioritize in improving the healthcare system instead the officials just prioritize their pockets to make room for corruption.

Arriving in Araullo High School Quarantine Facility is a surprise. You will be suffering from extreme humidity. They do not have proper air-conditioning. You may not get terribly sick from Covid-19 but you can definitely get sick from the intense heat in our isolation beds. If you have cough the sweat will just exhaust you. Bedsheet, pillow and linen are not provided. I bet isolation beds were not disinfected. It is shared toilet where you can take a bath using a bucket and “tabo” where you have to fill it with water from the drum. There is no running water from the faucet since water is saved and shared to everybody. In addition they do not have any orientation for newcomers here. The next day I just looked around and asked if meals are provided. There is a nurse station where one AC is working for the whole place and meals can be found during the day for breakfast, lunch and dinner. One thing I never imagined is that they provide chicken every day. Can you imagine eating chicken from day 1 up to day 10? And the cooking is just not right. It’s too oily and no veggies being served. Of course, I am grateful because having food is a blessing. But it is not making us healthy. If you have a loved one who can send you decent meals over, please do so or you can just order online if you have the means. Water is limited and ice is not available at least to relieve the thirst and hell-like condition here. Just bring your own water to be safe.

Overall, they patients are just isolated here and no extra attention is needed. Medicines not provided unless you ask. I got Lagundi syrup as trial medicine from UP doctors who visited us here. I actually volunteered for the study on Lagundi plant as cure for Covid-19. Going back to the humidity which every patient here complain about, you will either get dehydrated or high blood pressure. Though they conduct check up for temperature, oxygen level and blood pressure in the morning and evening, still the condition does not change. It is so freaking hot and dehydrating that you can’t even rest comfortably in your bed during day time to recuperate. If my cough does not improve, I’m pretty sure it’s because of the awful humid environment that I get to perspire a lot. If you ask, did I report it to the LGU or the manager in this facility? Yes, like what I said they do not have the solution. They just said we have time for exercise for fresh air outside our beds for a short time. It’s hilarious because it’s also hot outside and you are supposed to be resting. That’s why system and public officials here in this country suck. I’m warning you if you are comfortable at home with AC just opt for isolation in your room than staying in a facility like this. You can ask your relative to bring you a fan. Having said that I can’t wait to end my isolation period after 10 days and feel better. This pandemic has affected millions of people worldwide. I know I am more fortunate than other people’s experience. But still I have high expectations for the public officials especially the Mayor of Manila Isko “Yorme” Moreno. I hope that people will be served well. And I also I hope other quarantine facilities are not bad at all.

Just to update this blog on my 8th day, the humidity is not that bad at night you can still sleep well. Chicken in same style of cooking is still being served throughout the day so I have to order Grab or Food Panda to eat something different. Haha. We had lugaw this morning for breakfast because it is essential. Rice porridge or lugaw is essential. From what I realized is that health is wealth and we must take good care of it. I feel sorry for those front-liners who do not have the option for a WFH set-up. Nonetheless, I salute everybody for the hard work we all put to make it through this pandemic.