It sounds like a cold clinical word. But what it really means is that we will be isolated from the rest after being swabbed, and hope for negative result.
We were suspect cases, my husband and I. And we learned about it in a roundabout way.
We were not manifesting symptoms, so we were recommended to go under home quarantine. That means, strictly, no leaving from home, with movement restricted inside our house.
Now we have heard stories of people in quarantine facilities climbing walls to escape. Vice-Mayor El Cid Familiaran famously threatened to reveal the identities of the Persons Under Monitoring who went AWOL. Breaking quarantine, or a positive case being seen in public without a mask on and risking others is the height of irresponsibility.
But staying in most of the time is a struggle, especially when your companion is also a suspect case and therefore is also under home quarantine.
Good thing we were asymptomatic (what if we weren’t though, and there was an emergency?)
We also do not wish to impose on a system that is currently overwhelmed by actual confirmed positive cases, some of which are a few months old. We not want to impose on relatives, or on anyone really, because there is always the possibility of that our results would turn out positive.
So we took care of each other, my husband and I.
He ordered supplements online, called up delivery services for our needs. There were times when we were short on food, so we have to order for that too. And so the practical question start to sink in.
Unlike other cases who have care givers, nurses, maids, or at least relatives, and children as housemates, we have NOBODY.
There was just husband and I, both suspects, so we had to come up with a system to minimize contact. Since I was the healthier one (husband is a stroke survivor, diabetic, and hypertensive – all co-morbidities on positive cases that led to deaths), it was I who would accept the deliveries, full mask with face shield on.
Garbage disposal is also something done at midnight to prevent seeing people.
House has to be disinfected regularly (at least once a day) the floors doused with bleaching chemicals, soap, and hot water.
Power and water interruptions worsen the situation.
Ceneco’s lines would trip of, whatever Ceneco does, Baciwa will follow. End up waiting until midnight (sometimes past it) for water to come back, and that was the only time when we can finally disinfect and clean the house. We do store water in big containers but even THAT would run out for other needs (bathing, washing dishes).
No running water, frequent power interruptions. No water means we will have to put off cooking something healthy (food prep needs constant running water, FYI).
But all those were inconveniences.
There are upsides as well as downsides to the quarantine. Our neighbors stepped up; donations and contributions poured in. Fruits, cooked food, even coffee and sandwiches.
Yes, they know we were suspects. We announced it.
But it did not stop help from coming.
The kindness of people sustained us. Calls, text messages, a simple “how are you?” from sincerely concerned and not just the curious.
We also continued working. No rest for us.
We sent the staff home but husband and I (and our brother) continue to run our online paper from home (so pardon the lack of variety in content). Husband even continued with the fund-raiser for our three colleagues who tested positive (no we did not get a single centavo for ourselves).
But despite the kindness of neighbors, despite the well-wishers, despite our relative readiness, we would not have survived the two weeks without the most essential element of all: RESOURCES.
We had the means to call deliveries, to buy food and medicines, to buy supplements. And we have steady paychecks at least so we were not exactly hard-up (just inconvenienced by water and power interruptions, but who isn’t?).
What of the others who do not have these resources? What of the pedicab driver, the neighborhood laundry-woman, the ordinary worker under a no-work, no pay scheme.
Indeed it is easy to proselytize from a high place, take a picture of woman on quarantine accepting deliveries, but maybe just maybe they too lack the support from government, or they have nobody else to rely on to.
As for us, I am just glad we survive.
And live to fight another day.