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Love in the time of coronavirus: A Tacloban story

By: - Correspondent / @joeygabietaINQ
/ 04:52 AM February 05, 2020

TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte, Philippines — Daniel Joseph Stone had planned a “grand vacation” for his former girlfriend and their daughter to woo her back. But then, the Wuhan coronavirus (2019-nCov) got in the way.

Stone, 36, and an American professor in Wuhan City, China, was placed in isolation at a government facility on Jan. 18, a day after he arrived in the city, after he developed cough and fever.

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With him during the 14-day quarantine was his former girlfriend Tina, 23, who was told to stay in the hospital since she was in contact with the “person under investigation” for nCov infection.

“He told me that we were supposed to have a grand vacation here in Tacloban City but ended up in a hospital instead,” said Tina, who asked that her real name be withheld.

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At first, Stone resisted the idea of staying in the hospital for two weeks, but it served as an opportunity for the two to be alone together and thresh out issues between them.

Second chance

Stone, a native of Washington City in Indiana, and Tina met through an online dating site in August 2017. The American was then working in Tacloban as an online English teacher for Chinese students.

The couple broke up in January 2018, five months before Tina was to give birth to their child.

Stone moved to Davao City in November 2018 and later to Wuhan in September 2019, teaching English to children aged 3 to 8 in a learning center. He continued providing financial support to his daughter and would visit her.

Last month, he decided to go to Tacloban and bring Tina and their daughter to Cebu and Bohol for a vacation.

A day after he arrived, Stone decided to have himself admitted into the hospital after experiencing coughing and slight fever.

Confined like prisoner

Since he came from Wuhan, the center of the 2019-nCoV, Stone was brought to isolation at a government facility for possible infection.

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“At first, he was irritated and questioned why he was confined like a prisoner when it was just an ordinary fever,” said Tina.

“He told me that it could be due to our weather since it was winter in China, but it was very hot here. Three days after, he felt fine,” she added.

She said she had to convince him to allow health authorities follow their protocol.

A physician and a nurse were assigned to them throughout their 14-day stay.

‘In God’s hands’

Since it was only the two of them most of the time, they were able to talk about their daughter but skirted around their relationship.

As he held on to his faith that he would get better, he learned about what was happening outside through the news on television inside his air-conditioned room.

“When I was in Wuhan, they did not tell us anything except (it was) pneumonia. We did not know that there was an epidemic,” Stone said.

Although the confinement brought the couple closer, Stone said he would leave their fate to God.

“That was the plan. But I put everything in God’s hands. If it’s meant to be, (it will happen). I love her because we have a daughter so there’s always love for her,” Stone said.

Not ostracized

Tina declined to say how she felt toward him. “We are OK” was her reply when asked about their relationship.

The two were discharged on Feb. 1 after they did not exhibit symptoms of virus infection while under quarantine.

One thing Tina was happy about after their confinement was that their neighbors did not ostracize them.

Her two sisters, who both worked in a restaurant, were told to go on three-day leave without pay by their boss, a Chinese-Filipino, after learning that they were in contact with Tina and Stone.

Stone does not have immediate plans of going back to Wuhan, which Chinese authorities have placed on lockdown. He wants to stay a few more days in Tacloban and see how things will turn out.

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TAGS: NcoV, novel coronavirus, viral outbreak love story
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