Unprecedented, trying, uncertain times.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the drastic changes it is bringing with it at its wake are described in bold statements but often through an impersonal, third-person point of view.
For frontline workers and those who are allowed to work outside, however, the present realities are far from being impersonal. Not when you wake up with symptoms after a hospital duty or a quick trip to the pharmacy.
Take, for example, the case of Ana (not her real name). Ana was a member of a company’s skeleton workforce. Everything has been working well for Ana until she started getting headaches and body pains after a trip to a nearby convenience store. A few days later, she found herself with nowhere to go home to.
As a person suspected of having COVID-19, she was required to undergo self-isolation while waiting for her test results. It meant not being able to continue staying in the free lodging facilities provided by her company, nor could she go home and risk exposure to her family. Feeling confused, abandoned, and unjustly treated, she voiced out her concerns with the Volunteer Lawyers Against Discrimination (VLAD).
“I work overseas but this is not a hindrance to becoming a VLAD volunteer lawyer.”
I took on Ana’s case. I work overseas but this is not a hindrance to becoming a VLAD volunteer lawyer. I advised her of her rights, mainly as regards what would qualify as discrimination against individuals suspected of having COVID-19. I explained that to be on quarantine does not necessarily mean discrimination. There are protocols to be strictly followed such as quarantining at a government medical facility to prevent the further spread of the virus.
“To be on quarantine does not necessarily mean discrimination.”
Although the answers were not exactly what Ana hoped to hear, I could only wish that somehow my explanation gave her some clarity about what she must do and why she has to do it.
I do hope that Ana would hear good news from the testing facility. She is fighting a medical battle but I pray that she remains as calm, composed, and hopeful as when we were discussing her case. May her grace under pressure help lead her safely back home.
Note: The author, together with more than a hundred volunteer lawyers, provides free legal assistance and can be contacted through the Facebook Page of the Volunteer Lawyers Against Discrimination or any of its mobile numbers: 09992298705 for Smart subscribers; 09177052333 for Globe subscribers.