As a soldier for more than 34 years, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año had several experiences, in which he nearly died.

However, in the course of his career which involved fighting terrorists and lawless elements, the former Armed Forces of the Philippines chief-of-staff was not scarred or wounded by bullets or bomb shrapnel in the course of his many campaigns.

As Año’s career shifted from the battlefields against armed enemies to the front lines of the country’s response against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), the unseen enemy has also taken a toll on his health.

Año first tested for Covid-19 on March 31 and he had undergone a second Covid-19 test on April 8 which turned out negative.

On August 16, he tested positive again for the virus.

While now out of danger as far as his health is concerned, the DILG chief said the realization of dying from Covid-19 struck him while recovering in the hospital.

Eto nagpapalakas pa ako, recovering. Medyo mabigat tong tumama sa akin muntik na ako mawala sa mundo dahil sa (I’m recuperating. I’m recovering. What struck me now is a bit heavy especially when I think I almost died due to) Covid-19,” he said in a phone interview with the Philippine News Agency.

While thanking God for having strong lungs, the DILG chief recounted seeing other patients far younger than him in the Covid-19 ward with deteriorating conditions as their bodies’ oxygen levels fell beyond critical.

“What is important in fighting Covid-19 is that you have a good and strong immune system. I felt that my body almost collapsed because I felt symptoms simultaneously,” he added.

These symptoms, he said, include coughing, fever, tiredness, and diarrhea.

Once he fully recovers, Año said he intends to reduce his exposure to lessen his chances of re-infection. (Christopher Lloyd Caliwan, PNA)