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Doctor airs frustration over learning he's infected with COVID-19 almost 2 weeks after being tested

Dr. Joey Hernandez vented his frustrations and disappointment after learning he is infected with the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) nearly two weeks after he was tested.

"I am doing well now, no symptoms," Hernandez wrote on a Facebook post on March 30.

"I think I have recovered. No more diarrhea, fever, sore throat, body weakness and intense headache. So I guess I am not anymore infectious," he added.

In a report by Katrina Son on Unang Balita on April 20 Monday, Hernandez said he was clinically-recovered when he learned that he tested positive for COVID-19.

"Nakuha ko siya, clinically recovered na ako. It took a while for the test results to be given as compared dun sa may tatawag na tao dun sa test results," he said in the report.

According to Hernandez, he felt COVID-19 symptoms including a high-grade fever, difficulty breathing, headache and sore throat on March 16.

"Nagkaroon ako ng high-grade fever — 40.5 'yong aking temperature. Tapos hirap at mabilis yung paghinga ko to the point na parang umuungol, parang may grunting sound, headache, sore throat, 'yong sore throat ko actually may nana tapos body weakness," he told Katrina Son.

It was then that he decided to go straight to the hospital for a test.

In his Facebook post, Hernandez said he is mad and "utterly disappointed" because he was told that if he were to test positive, he will be informed after three days. He will be fetched from his condominium for hospital admission, too.

But "that did not happen," Hernandez wrote. "My attempts to call DOH last week were unsuccessful, most likely due to the volume of calls they receive."

Hernandez only got to speak with someone from the Department of Health's (DOH) hotline on March 30, Monday, who told him it should be the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM).

Hernandez contested, "since I was told by the pulmonologist who saw me that it should be DOH NCR RESU," he wrote.

He was directed to RITM, anyway, where a person asked for his details including the testing date and facility. During the phone call, RITM told him, "Sir, hindi po kami ang magre-release ng result. Dapat yung hospital. Na-email na po naming noong March 26.”

When Hernandez asked if the results can be disclosed to him, he was rejected and told the hospital should be the one to release the results.

After asking for the contact details of whom he should call for the results, he was told to just search for it online.

"Nakakadismaya," he wrote.

Using his connections, Hernandez eventually got hold of the hospital's point person contact number.

Hernandez, who was already feeling good, thought the test would come out negative. To his unimaginable surprise the hospital told him he tested positive.

The hospital told Hernandez, "Siiiir, positive kayo for COVID-19. Balik kayo sir bukas for repeat swab, tutal 14 days na rin naman.”

Hernandez said he felt "mixed emotions and chaotic thoughts." Aside from venting out frustrations, Hernandez posted his experience on social media for contact tracing purposes.

"We have had this for several weeks now, can’t we at least fix/streamline how we release results? Who should really release results? Sino ba dapat may accountability dito?" he asked.

"Diba may protocol kapag nagdi-disclose ng result? Bakit parang kaibigan lang na “SIIIIR positive kayo.” In-email niyo pala ung result sa facility, binigay ko naman contact details ko, mahirap ba na i-text o i-email rin ako?" he added.

Hernandez noted that he was lucky because he had connections that led him to learn about his COVID-19 test results, expressing his concern to those who don't.

"If this were someone with no connections in hospitals or in DOH (glad I have a friends who helped, Salamat sa inyo), how will they know if they are positive?"

Hernandez initially thought he was not prioritized because he might have tested negative, but he tested positive and no one informed him until he asked.

"Akala ko since hindi niyo ko ini-inform ng result ko, ang most logical explanation ay negative ako, at di niyo ako priority. Gets ko naman," he said.

"Pero POSITIVE pala ako, tapos hinayaan niyo lang ako dito?" he continued.

Hernandez said he was aware he is not high risk and thankfully he recovered but he expressed his concern towards people who have lesser resources.

"Alam ko na hindi ako high risk because I’m young and immunocompetent at buti naka recover ako. Pero paano kung ibang tao ito na with lesser resources, no connections, less ang risk based sa criteria at nag deterioriate?"

In the Unang Balita report, Hernandez said, "admittedly the Philippine Health System is healing but there needs to be a lot more preparation so siguro oo.

"Pero nakikita ko kasi kung gaano, hindi ko dinedepensahan ang DOH, pero nakikita ko kasi firsthand para sa mga nakatrabaho ko dati, para sa mga kaibigan ko dati, kung gaano sila — they are really working hard to fix the system," he added.

The UB report also said that according to DOH, the hospital where the person got tested should be the one to release the results.

On March 31, Hernandez tweeted that he was already counted in the statistics released to the public before finding out he was one of the reported cases.



"I'm PH1264, but currently we have 1,546 reported COVID-19 cases. Cannot fathom how I was already counted in the statistics a few days back but I wasn't aware of it," he wrote in a tweet.

On Facebook, Hernandez ended his note in a hopeful tone. 

"I hope we take note of all these concerns so we can address them comprehensively and effectively. Lahat tayo importante. Lahat tayo deserve na malaman ang results on time, hindi lang VIP. Salamat."

As of Sunday, the DOH has recorded 6,259 cases in the Philippines. — Jannielyn Ann Bigtas/LA, GMA News