In pursuit of a good story

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome or SARS is a viral respiratory illness transmitted through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, and bodily secretions from an infected person. It manifests flu-like symptoms.

At the height of the SARS scare in 2003, DOH (Department of Health) beat people have no other recourse but to cover and write about the latest update on the health malady.

I want a different perspective of the story so I designate myself to visit the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Alabang, Muntinlupa City, one of the DOH’s assigned government SARS centers in Metro Manila. The other one was found in San Lazaro Hospital in Manila.

I have planned to come up with a news feature and a profile story from the interview with front line health workers who are directly handling suspected SARS patients.

The idea is quite scary isn’t it? What was I thinking then? We are not even covered by a medical insurance just in case me and my co-workers catch the virus during the coverage. I don’t even have the slightest idea of the existing life insurance rates. Also, I have two little susceptible kids to worry about.

But there’s no turning back. With only surgical masks and alcohol as our protection we proceeded to RITM.

My photographer was all worried to enter the RITM premises, but I assure him we are not going to meet a patient inside as we are not allowed to do so.

The interview and hospital facility guided tour turn out well. I felt good about myself as only few print reporters at the time including those from TV were able to visit the SARS referral center.

I did it all for the love of my job and goal to get a first hand account. After all the worries, I get to see my story published the following day.

Fortunately, none of us get sick after the coverage. Thank God.

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