Lessons from a COVID-19 survivor: Don’t shrug off your symptoms

/ 03:46 PM March 22, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The first Filipino to be confirmed positive of the novel coronavirus has come forward to share the lessons he learned after catching the viral disease that has swept around the globe.

Carlo Llanes Navarro, 48, who claims to be PH4 (patient no. 4), believes he contracted the virus after traveling to Japan with his wife and daughter, Gia and Evie, in February.


On their return flight back to the Philippines on Feb. 25, Navarro was seated in a separate row from his wife and daughter. Behind him, he said, was a Filipino man “coughing vigorously.”

“Nothing could be done and we sat in that plane for more than four hours…We suspect this is where we got the virus,” Navarro wrote in a Facebook post.


On March 3, or seven days later, Navarro began having low-grade fever of 37.7 degrees Celsius and chills.

He went to St. Luke’s Hospital in Taguig and insisted to be tested despite being told that his symptoms were mild and Japan was not a COVID-19 hotspot.

Navarro was sent home after the test. His daughter was sent away to temporarily live with his in-laws as a precautionary measure. By Thursday, March 5, he no longer had fever but he had cough and muscle pains. In the evening, he received the bad news.

“I received the frightening call from the DOH (Department of Health) that evening. I was promptly whisked away by an ambulance to RITM (Research Institute from Tropical Medicine) in Alabang,” he wrote.

The next day, his entire household was tested for the virus. All were tested negative.

His close contacts at work were also tested for the virus and quarantined later on but turned out negative.

During his two-week stay in the hospital, Navarro was “vomiting endlessly and had diarrhea probably due to stress.”


However, for him, it was not the physical pain that was frightening but the psychological effect that made it difficult.

As one of the first few patients diagnosed with the virus, they had trouble looking for a hospital to be transferred to.

“Each and everyone was refusing to take me in. I was desperate because the pneumonia I acquired was from the hospital,” he said, but later one hospital has agreed to take him.

“I was coughing profusely, and chills were getting worse by the day,” he said.

Navarro was discharged from the hospital after 15 days with no symptoms.

Ignorance, inaction will cause virus to spread faster

But during his confinement, Navarro said he was able to reflect on his situation.

“I realized that ignorance and inaction will cause the virus to spread faster. That should anyone experience any symptoms, they should stay home and limit contact with others,” Navarro said.

“They should not shrug off any symptoms and downplay them. This community quarantine is something we need to protect the people that we love,” he said.

Because he was tested quickly, he said he was able to shield his family and staff from the disease.

“When people are not tested, they can walk around and socialize thinking they just have a cold or slight malaise,” he said.

As of Sunday, the DOH said there are 15 people who have recovered from the virus like Navarro, out of 380 confirmed cases. The disease, however has taken 25 lives.

For more news about the novel coronavirus click here.
What you need to know about Coronavirus.
For more information on COVID-19, call the DOH Hotline: (02) 86517800 local 1149/1150.

The Inquirer Foundation supports our healthcare frontliners and is still accepting cash donations to be deposited at Banco de Oro (BDO) current account #007960018860 or donate through PayMaya using this link .

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