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    Twelve hospital beds at the Philippine General Hospital were filled with flowers in an installation called "Whispering Flower Beds" by visual artist Toym Imao. It is to honor front liners who died fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.
    PHOTO BY Jerome Ascano


    As of today, April 8, 2021, the Philippines has logged 167,279 active cases of COVID-19 — an all-time high as the country grapples with the stronger, more evolved coronavirus and its variants. The surge in new cases prompted the government to declare another round of enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila and neighboring regions.

    Despite these alarming numbers, some people would still like to think that COVID-19 is not real or not as contagious as experts say. Yet every day we come across stories of individuals battling the disease, many of them more heartbreaking than the next.

    COVID-Positive Isolates In His Car And Dies

     On April 1, journalist Aris Ilagan recalled his final conversation with friend Lyle Parreño, who tested positive for coronavirus last March 19. In an article for TopBikes, Aris says Lyle told him in a phone call: “Pards, may COVID ako.”


    Lyle assured him that he was doing fine, despite Aris noticing that his friend was running out of breath while they talked. He asked for his friend’s whereabouts but didn’t get an answer.

    A few days later, Aris got a call that his friend had passed away. Lyle had chosen to self-isolate in his car — which was packed with food and water. According to Aris, it may be because he didn’t want to go home and risk passing on the virus to his family (he is married with two kids). He may have also known that it would be hard to get into a hospital and quarantine facility as healthcare workers are already overwhelmed with patients.

    “Tunay na nakakalungkot dahil pumanaw siya nang walang kalaban-laban,” Aris wrote.

    ‘Doctor Needs To Choose Who Lives And Who Dies’

     We’ve already heard of hospitals reaching full capacity, but doctors are also lamenting the lack of equipment that could save patients’ lives. In a report by CNN Philippines, Dr. Katrin De La Paz recounts the day she was forced to make a very difficult decision: choosing who between five patients would get the only available mechanical ventilator.

    She chose an 89-year-old female patient who had the lowest oxygen saturation level. Hours later, three of the remaining patients passed away.

    "Bakit namin kailangan mamili kung sino ang pagbibigyan? Bakit dumating sa punto na 'di namin ma-treat nang maayos or maisalba 'yung buhay ng bawat isa sa pasyente namin? Bakit kailangan namin mamili? It's very frustrating," De la Paz told CNN Philippines.

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    “Yung physical exhaustion kaya itulog, but mental and emotional exhaustion? Mahirap bumawi lalo na kung mamatayan kami kada araw. Kung 'yung mga pasyente alam namin kaya pa eh, kaya pa ilaban. Eh pero namamatay. Kasi kulang kami ng gamit, kulang kami ng tao. Sayang 'yung buhay. 'Yun 'yung nakakapagod," she added.

    ‘My Brother Died In A Tent Outside The Hospital’

     In an #SPConfession, one of our readers wrote how they lost their brother in a matter of days.

    “On Wednesday, he was hit with the symptoms. Thursday, he was admitted into a tent outside the hospital. He was waiting to be transferred inside.

    “On Friday, we lost him.”

    ‘I Can’t Take Care Of My COVID-Positive Parents Because I Am In Quarantine’

     In another #SPConfession, one of our readers wrote to us and shared the pain of being unable to care for her parents because some members of their household tested positive for COVID-19.

    “Nag-positive ang sister-in-law ko. Dahil tatlo mahigit na ang sintomas na mayroon siya, dinala na siya sa ospital.

    “Positive din sina mama at papa. Dahil seniors sila pareho, kailangan din nilang madala sa ospital.

    “Ang pinakamahirap sa COVID surge ngayon, hindi ko sila maasikaso kasi naka-quarantine rin kami ng asawa ko at anak ko.

    “Hindi mo alam kung anong nangyayari sa kanila sa ospital at kung naaalagaan ba sila doon. Nakakatakot tuwing may magte-text o tatawag kasi baka masamang balita,” she writes.


    COVID-19 hits every person differently. While it is true that many are asymptomatic or affected with mild symptoms, some still end up dying, as the stories above show. This is especially true if they are part of the vulnerable sector like senior citizens or those with comorbidities.


    The variants of the virus, which are already present in all Metro Manila cities, are more contagious and whole household end up getting infected. As we wait to be inoculated with the COVID-19 vaccine, let us help one another survive this pandemic by becoming more vigilant in practicing safety measures and being more careful and mindful of others whenever we go out.

    For stories of COVID-19 survivors, click here.

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