A Filipino Doctor Who Recovered from COVID-19 Hosted a Reddit AMA. Here’s What We Learned
At least 21 doctors have died in the Philippines due to COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, according to the Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines (PHAP). The Department fo Health meanwhile said that over 250 health workers have tested positive for COVID-19, including 152 doctors and 63 nurses.
One doctor who says he recovered from the disease, though, hosted an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit on Wednesday, April 7. User AdamkiewiczArtery identified himself as a doctor “who took care of COVID-19 probable (PUIs) and positive cases for seven straight days. After my tour of duty, I had cough and colds, and was tested positive for SARS-COV-2. I was treated and upon repeat swab, was tested negative.”
Moderators of the r/Philippines subreddit verified his identity.
Here are our main takeaways from his AMA.
On what treatments he underwent after he tested positive for the coronavirus:
“Since the physician who initially checked me is also entertaining the possibility of a bacterial throat infection, I was given azithromycin for five days. Not for COVID-19. While there is promising evidence on the use of azithromycin for COVID-19, it is still considered as an experimental treatment. I was also given multivitamins and ascorbic acid to be taken once a day.
However, AdamkiewiczArtery said this is not the standard treatment for every single COVID-19 patient. “Those asymptomatic patients who tested positive for COVID-19 (our hospital made it a must for healthcare workers who just exited the COVID-19 ward, after I got infected, fortunately) were not given antibiotics. They were given multivitamins and ascorbic acid, though. For those more severe cases requiring oxygen support and/or intubation, high-level antibiotics were initiated, (as far as I know).
On how long the treatment was and how long he had to wait to get the results of the two tests:
“I was treated with antibiotics for five days. Because I hail from a province without a testing facility…it took five to seven days before we (got) the swab results. Testing back then was segregated to high- and low-priority, as far as I know. Those having severe cases of respiratory symptoms with travel history and/or contact with a COVID-19 positive patients were placed on high-priority, so their treatment may be tailored. These patients, as far as I know, had their results released as fast as they can.
“For PUIs and asymptomatic (but with exposure) individuals, specimen (was) placed on low-priority queue while they were undergoing observation.
“NOTE: This was before a lot of testing kits were donated and UP-NIH testing kits were not yet approved.”
On how he may have caught the virus:
"While I am confident that I don PPE (personal protective equipment) properly, I cannot also remove the fact that there may have been breaches. I handled a COVID-19 positive patient as well.
“We cannot also remove the fact that I cannot ensure that my co-workers (wore) their PPE properly as well. Being in the COVID-19 ward itself is a huge risk for getting the infection.”
On whether he lost his sense of taste and smell:
“There were others who reported loss of taste and smell, a small fraction of patients, but I didn't experience it. BUTI NA LANG!”
On what he first experienced that made him think he might have the virus:
“I had cough and colds. Actually, I did not consider it as COVID-19 until the swab results turned out positive. While cough and colds were associated with COVID-19, there is also a huge possibility that my symptoms were not from it.
On his mental state prior to testing positive and how he is doing now:
“While I was very anxious (even prior to entering the COVID-19 ward), I got a good support system, in and out of the hospital. My co-workers…check(ed) in on each other while in there. We made sure that we always ask “kamusta,” even tell jokes to each other. Invite na kumain lagi, and such. We also checked each other that we were wearing the proper PPE.
“My friends, co-doctors and family outside the COVID-19 ward also did not fail to ask for my condition, did video calls, chats etc.
“I am very much well now, physically and mentally. However, there are others who are unlucky to not have such support system, with or without this COVID-19 crisis, we should always check out our friends and family, okay?”
On whether he felt muscle pain and fatigue:
“On Day 3 from the onset of symptoms, even though I was not moving much (I chose to rest first), I felt muscle pains on my legs and upper extremities, to the point that I preferred not to stand up. I can still walk though, I just chose not to.
“On the first few days of my signs and symptoms, I preferred sleeping over anything else. Well I had the longest periods of sleep back then (we rarely get those in our line of work), so work fatigue may also be a factor why.”
On whether doctors managing admitted or possible COVID-19 cases are prohobited from handling other patients outside the COVID-19 ward:
“Yes, they should be, especially if they are managing patients positive of COVID-19. In our hospital, we have dedicated a COVID-19 Response Team, who are the sole personnel to handle COVID-19 cases.”
On what a typical schedule is like for a doctor handling COVID-19 patients:
“We do seven-day duties, 24 hours per day. As strenuous as it is, we are still catering to non-COVID-19 patients, so personnel are very, very much important to sustain the normal operations of the hospital outside the COVID-19 ward.”
On whether he expects to get the supposed P100,000 benefit from the government for medical frontliners who get infected by the coronavirus:
“Well there are talks that I may get the P100,0000…but I'm not expecting. If it does come, then I would be very thankful. If not, then it's okay, I'm alive and well, and that's what's important.
On how he’s feeling now:
“I'm back to my pre-illness state. Aside from being bored due to prolonged isolation, I am not experiencing any symptoms as of this moment.”
Read the full Reddit AMA here.