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Cargill employee recovering after rare COVID-19 symptom

Last Updated Apr 28, 2020 at 6:14 am MST

Summary

He was told he had COVID-19 and needed emergency surgery on his intestines

John was isolated in a room and COVID-19 was not transmitted to his family. He’s since been cleared of the disease

CALGARY (CityNews) – A Cargill employee is recovering from surgery weeks after coming home sick from the meat processing plant.

“I woke up from surgery, I don’t know what happened to me,” said John Egat.

It started with a stomach ache on shift at the Cargill plant, and it led to an emergency surgery and a positive Covid-19 test result on April 6.

With a high fever and severe stomach pains, John Egat went to South Health Campus, and was admitted to the ER, after leaving work at the plant in High River.

Egat says he was told he had COVID-19 and needed emergency surgery on his intestines, which ruptured. A symptom so rare his doctor called a Toronto hospital that had a similar case.

“I called the nurses, almost 4 a.m. Almost six hours the operation and I’m nervous. I just cry here. I can not go to the hospital. I [can’t] see him.” said Egat’s wife Rachelle.

John has been cleared by health officials of COVID-19 but is still recovery at home with family from his surgery. /Crystal Laderas, April 27, 2020

Egat, who is a permanent resident, woke up from surgery with the comforting words spoken in his first language from Filipino frontline workers. “The doctor slap my [face] to wake up. Then all the Filipino tried to shout ‘pray, pray’.”

A non-profit that’s been tracking households linked to the Cargill outbreak counts about 350 directly impacted and positive cases, not including families members.

Fiesta Filipino has been delivering packages to families in isolation because their usual circle of friends are also in quarantine.

RELATED: ‘Death is so real:’ Immigrant group says meat workers afraid after plant closure

“We barely can cope with the demand of help, request for care packages and support,” said Vangie Caoile, Philippine Council of Alberta.

Caoile added there’s a lack of support for families while decision-makers and the public are trying to figure out who to blame.

With fingers pointed at the province, Cargill and Filipino workers facing racist backlash.

“Let’s be clear, the virus is the enemy. The virus does not see colour, does not see race, does not see age. It just so happens that worker(s) who are vulnerable are coming from our community because we’re doing the job,” added Caoile.

John was isolated in a room and COVID-19 was not transmitted to his family. He’s since been cleared of the disease. He’s applying for disability and the family is getting a mortgage deferral as they wait to see what kind of support they’re eligible for.