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  • Veteran journalist Howie Severino revealed Tuesday, April 7, 2020, that he had contracted the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and was among the “lucky ones who lived to tell the tale.”

    In an article he wrote on GMA News Online, Howie shared that he was compelled to share his story because of the stigma surrounding the disease. While he is lucky that he was able to go home and go back to his normal life, some are not as fortunate. One of his fellow COVID-19 patients was not allowed to move back into his condo building, despite testing negative for the virus, according to Howie.

    “Those of us among the pioneers — I’m Patient 2828 in the lower part of the curve — have a responsibility to talk about this experience in a way that will enable the public to understand it, lessen the fear, and create compassion for those who survived COVID-19,” the journalist wrote.

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    Howie, who stayed in the hospital for nine days fighting pneumonia, wrote that it was the experimental, anti-malaria drug chloroquine that “eventually worked” for him. (The Department of Health previously clarified that the protocol is an "off-label use" of antiviral and anti-malaria drugs.)

    The dad of one also shared the important lessons he learned throughout his ordeal.

    One was to be transparent to the authorities if you are confirmed positive for COVID-19. “It’s not fair to anyone who has had close contact with you,” Howie wrote. “For the greater good, we are required to disclose our COVID-19 status to the Department of Health. Contact tracing can go a long way in preventing its further spread.”


    Many are quick to judge COVID-19 patients, which is why patients sometimes lie about their condition, but Howie shares that he made the “critical decision” of informing his close neighbors. “They reacted with compassion and appreciation for the information, but I’m not sure how they would have reacted if they found out later or through the barangay,” he wrote.

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    ‘Stay in touch with patients online’

    COVID-19 patients are isolated and are not allowed visitors. They fight the disease alone. For them, part of the battle is also with their minds.

    Howie says that what kept him strong (and sane) were the Zoom meetings and group conversations he had through his phone. Thanks to constant communication with family and friends, he was able to have a sense of normalcy despite fighting a terrible disease. “When reaching out to COVID-19 patients, do so with more than get-well messages,” Howie wrote. “Share family news, your playlists, jokes, and memes, anything that can offer a respite from the constant reminders of our condition. We do not need more pity.”

    He also got to know the nurses and doctors who took care of him in the hospital. He even taught one of the nurses to document Howie as his patient as well as his life as a frontliner.

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    ‘Not a death sentence’

    Howie counts himself lucky to be a COVID-19 survivor. He attributes it to “a combination of good fortune, physical fitness, and competent medical treatment.” He also shares that he is willing to donate blood to share the antibodies that can help other patients fight off the infection.

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    Though the death toll in our country is staggering, Howie says it is often the deaths that are emphasized, which adds to the “overwhelming sense of dread,” while “many of the recoveries don’t get counted.”

    “The odds of survival are pretty good,” he says. “I am living proof.”

    As of this writing, the Philippines has a total of 3,764 COVID-19 cases and 84 recoveries. Click here for the inspiring recovery story of a patient with comorbidities and here for the story of the first Filipino COVID-19 patient. For more stories on COVID-19, click here

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