Family, prayers help cop survive tough COVID-19 fight
MANILA, Philippines — A high-ranking official of the Eastern Police District (EPD) was just having breakfast with fellow police officers before a flag ceremony, not knowing that he would contract the fatal coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
In an interview, Police Colonel Orlando Yebra Jr., EPD Deputy District Director for Administration, said he is still recovering more than one month after he was discharged from the Chinese General Hospital in Manila.
“Masasabi natin na I’m still recovering. Nabugbog masyado ang katawan natin. Ngayon, dahan dahan I am doing some light exercise, brisk walking, [eat] good food,” Yebra told Police Corporal Christopher Jan Lagunilla, chief EPD public information officer, in an interview live streamed on the National Capital Region Police Office Facebook page.
(I would like to say that I am still recovering. My body was really tired. Now, slowly I am doing some light exercise, brisk walking, [eat] good food.)
How Yebra got infected
Asked how he contracted the ailment, Yebra said he was infected after having breakfast with fellow police officers at a police station in Metro Manila last September.
He said the policeman whom he had breakfast with as well as the staff who served them food tested positive for the novel coronavirus, which causes the coronavirus disease.
As a close contact, Yebra said he immediately informed the District Health Officer. Days after the breakfast with COVID-19-infected individuals, Yebra said he already felt COVID-19 symptoms such as slight fever and loss of taste and smell.
Yebra was transported to the NCRPO health care facilities from Sept. 14 to Sept. 16. His symptoms worsened, leading the police to transfer him to the hospital, where the EPD police officer stayed from Sept. 17 to Sept. 29.
Yebra even admitted that it took some time before his transfer to the hospital because there were a few health facilities that had vacant beds for COVID-19 patients.
“Dahil nga medyo nagkakahirapan kung saan may bakante na maiiadmit ako kaya it took some time bago ako naadmit sa Chinese General Hospital,” he said.
(We had a hard time looking for a vacant hospital so it took some time before I was admitted at the Chinese General Hospital.)
How to fight COVID-19
Yebra’s journey in fighting the coronavirus disease was not easy. He said he was intubated and placed under several medical procedures because he also has underlying health diseases including diabetes and hypertension.
“I was being treated at a mechanical ventilator for several days to help me breathe. I could not even move because I was intubated,” Yebra said in mixed Filipino and English. According to the Department of Health, mechanical ventilators are used for critical care patients who cannot breathe on their own so they need a machine to be assisted for breathing.
During his hospitalization, Yebra had his cellphone to help him talk to his family through texts and video calls, which was the only option at that time because visits were prohibited.
Yebra said his family was his source of strength during the trying times: “Iniisip ko lang lagi family ko. Iyon ang inaalala ko. Iniisip ko gagawin namin at iyong plano na gagawin sa anak namin at siguro iyong paghingi ng tulong sa Panginoon.”
(I was thinking of my family. I would think of our plans for our children in the future. I was also asking help from God.)
To prevent stress, Yebra was keeping a healthy mindset and ignoring social media while he was confined at the hospital.
“Pero ang isang ginawa ko na makatulong para sa recovery ko, hindi ako nabukas ng social media kasi baka makadagdag pa ng stress,” he said.
(To help my recovery, I did not open my social media accounts because it might become more stressful.)
“Isa pa, mukhang napaka-aga naman kung mawala sa mundo. Marami pa kasing magagawa sa PNP organization at siyempre sa bayan,” he went on.
(I think it’s too early for me to leave this world. I have more to offer to the police force and service to our countrymen.)
COVID-19 is still a threat
After weeks of painful treatment, Yebra said he was living proof that the virus is still a threat.
“It remains to be highly infectious, deadly or fatal. Anyone can get the virus from anyone else,” he said.
Health guidelines should be followed to prevent contraction of the disease, Yebra also reminded the public.
“Libo-libo na po ang namatay… Libo-libo na rin ang mga tinamaan nito [COVID-19]. Huwag natin balewalain ang COVID-19. Makinig pa rin tayo sa inuutos ang kinauukulan, lalo na sa health standards,” Yebra said while wearing a mask at his office.
(Thousands have died, thousands were infected. Do not downplay this disease. Let’s listen to authorities especially when it comes to the health standards.)
As of Saturday, 393,961 COVID-19 patients were recorded in the country. Of the number, 350,216 were recoveries while 7,485 were deaths.
The national government imposed lockdowns to prevent further transmission of the illness. As of November, the country is placed under community quarantine for almost eight months.
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