Cabaero: Covid-stricken families

Nini Cabaero

THE confidentiality of personal health information of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) patients is assured by several laws.

The identities of these patients have been kept from the public because that is what the laws require and officials want to protect those already suffering from the disease from any discrimination.

Media entities do not name the patients and they limit their reporting to what government health agencies release. The only exception is when a patient offers to be named, quoted and interviewed or a relative or next of kin discloses the information.

In the early weeks of the Covid-19 pandemic, seldom did we see patients coming out and declaring they have the disease. If they did reveal their condition, it was because they survived and were able to beat the virus.

It was a surprise then when two families last week went public about the impact of the Covid-19 on them.

Madyl Cayanong-Damuag shared with SunStar Cebu how the Covid-19 claimed three family members. In just days, her father, former Department of Labor and Employment-Central Visayas director Elias Cayanong, 67, and her uncles Emmanuel, 64, and Eliseo, 59, fell victim to the pandemic.

Damuag said her father started showing symptoms on June 2, 2020, a day after her 91-year-old grandmother Concepcion died. The grandmother had cancer and died without having been tested for the new coronavirus. Damuag’s father and his two brothers stayed with their mother since last month.

Damuag said her uncle Emmanuel died on June 13 after he was hospitalized for having difficulty breathing. Her father died on June 14. Their youngest brother, Eliseo, had difficulty breathing and died also on June 14. All three were found to have the Covid-19.

Damuag said she decided to let the public know of their deaths because some people underestimate the Covid-19. For her family, the disease taught them a harsh lesson, she said. “Usually some people would think that doing precautionary measures is overreacting and unnecessary. But if we take those precautions seriously, they could save lives,” Damuag said in Cebuano.

Another family that went public with the disease is that of Dumanjug Mayor Efren Guntrano “Gungun” Gica. He posted on Facebook Thursday, “My father Atty. Edgar, my mother Marna, my brother Erick and his partner Kristine have all tested positive for Covid-19.”

The mayor then said the four have not been to the town lately and are in isolation in Cebu City.

He informed town residents that he and his brother Erwin, the town vice mayor, have stayed in Dumanjug and have not been in contact with them since then.

These disclosures by Covid-stricken families offer warnings to others who may take the threat lightly and reminders of how potent the virus is and how widespread is the coverage of infection even within a family.

These families set aside the stigma that attaches to those who have come close to the virus and present themselves as evidence that this is serious and we have to be careful.