Without a hospital or quarantine facility to take him in, a COVID-19 patient isolated himself in his car and died a few days later.
Journalist Aris Ilagan retold how his last conversation with long-time friend Lyle Parreño went in an article on Top Bikes Philippines. What was supposed to be a catch-up session took a serious turn.
"'Pare may COVID ako," Ilagan recalled Parreño as telling him. Concerned, Ilagan asked of his whereabouts and of his current condition.
"Okay lang ako rito pards, basta mag-iingat ka," Ilagan quoted his friend.
At this time, Ilagan caught Parreño's labored breathing through the phone and knew something wasn't right despite banter and casual jokes.
MORE ON COVID SURGE AND HOSPITALS:
Ilagan noted that Parreño dodged the topic whenever he was asked about his health until more bad news popped up: Parreño's older sibling passed away the night before.
The 30-minute call left Ilagan clueless as to where his friend was. The next morning, Parreño sent him a text, asking for a small favor.
"Good morning, pards. Wala akong mapa-loadan dito. Pasahan mo naman ako," Parreño told Ilagan. None of Ilagan's calls got through, and Parreño never got back to him anymore.
On March 28, two days since their phone call, Ilagan received news from a common friend that Parreño was found in his car—doors shut, windows all the way up, and the engine running—too weak to move.
From his car parked in Camp Crame, Parreño was transported to several hospitals before he was taken to a facility outside Metro Manila, where he later died.
"Puno ng pagkain at inuming tubig ang sasakyan, isang indikasyon na pinaghandaan niya ang kanyang pananatili sa loob ng sasakyan upang magpalipas ng oras at marahil sa pag-asang bubuti ang kanyang kalagayan," Ilagan said.
Ilagan said Parreño didn't try with nearby hospitals and facilities inside Camp Crame as other COVID patients already filled up the beds, forcing doctors and nurses to turn away individuals who caught the virus.
According to Ilagan, Parreño's decision to self-isolate in his car with enough resources to get him by could be borne out of fear of infecting his family at home.
"Hindi na rin siya nakipagsapalaran sa ospital o kaya'y magtungo sa quarantine facility sa loob ng kampo dahil umaapaw na sa pasyente ang mga ito. Marahil ay nagpasiya rin siyang hindi na umuwi sa kanilang bahay upang hindi na mahawahan ang kanyang pamilya," Ilagan said.
"Ayoko na manisi kung bakit nangyari ito sa kaibigan ko. Iba 'yung decision na ginawa niya eh pero gusto ko lang sabihin na sana seryosohin ang COVID-19. Sunod sunod na 'yung nakikita nating (namamatay) pero wala tayong help na nakikita," he said in an interview.
Starting April, Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal were placed under enhanced community quarantine. This would last until April 11 in an attempt to tame the surge of COVID-19 cases in the country. For several days, the Philippines reported a high number of daily cases, which choked healthcare systems worse than last year.