It was an indirect contact, but still.
I actually caught wind of the fact that one of the positive cases in the city has entered our office more than a week before. Mind you, the Executive Editor, and I were not even around when Confirmed Case entered the building (that was 24 July), but our staff members were. CC came to our office for a shoot a day before the weekend; two of our staff members were exposed to him/her.
Three days later, we were exposed to our staff members. We explained this later to the health worker assigned to us, but according to him, we are generally classified under “contact”.
As soon as we received confirmation about our exposure, the Executive Editor called the City Health Office. He was advised to have ALL of us – four of us, as we are currently running under a skeleton crew – swabbed as precaution, and to have the office disinfected.
First thing we did the next morning was go straight to the City Health Office for the swab. We were given forms (we were interviewed about our exposure – all of us are asymptomatic, by the way).
Beneath the form is the word SUSPECT.
So we are suspected cases.
We waited our turn.
When it was our turn, the health worker assigned asked me the usual questions (symptoms, mainly and I said I had sniffles the day before from my rhinitis, but nothing out of the ordinary), then briefed me that I have to be on home quarantine for 14 days.
“What happens if our results come out negative before we finish the quarantine?” I asked.
Then, there is no need to continue it, was the reply.
Then, those thin long sticks – the dreaded swabs – were unsheathed. First swab was down my throat. I gagged a little but I managed.
Then he told me to lift my chin up.
I did. He inserted it deep down my right nostril – with an up-down motion. I felt an intense stinging, burning sensation almost immediately. Then the left nostril; again the stinging burning sensation. It was so intense it immediately brought tears on my eyes.
The sensation lasted for five minutes, the tears stayed for five minutes more.
There are certain things that I have noticed. One, since we are asymptomatic suspected cases, we were not picked up nor brought to our destinations by local health authorities (that could have minimized contagion in case we were found positive).
The Executive Editor and I booked a taxi cab going to and from city health center to help minimize contact. The same could not be said for the similar cases, individuals who could not afford taxi cabs and would thus be forced to ride public transport.
We are on home quarantine now, and will remain so until the results came. But at the back of your mind is a nagging thought, that big “what if”.
What if, and this is a big WHAT IF, one of us turned out positive?
Despite all precautions, there is always a possibility of contagion, of infection.
Stay home, stay safe.
That is the best thing we can do for now.