COVID-19 in the Philippines: How to protect yourself

COVID-19 is now in the Philippines and news on it is everywhere. You’ll hear one thing from one source then suddenly get different information from another. Understandably, this makes it hard to understand what is true and what isn’t. The important thing to remember is that COVID-19 can make anyone sick. It won’t matter what your social status, nationality, or ethnicity is. 

What is COVID-19?

The World Health Organization (WHO) officially named the new disease as COVID-19 last February 11, 2020. COVID is a short term for coronavirus disease. It comes from a family of viruses that causes respiratory infections. The first case was reported in Wuhan, China last December 2019. Since then, the outbreak has spread to almost 60 countries, including the Philippines.

COVID-19 in the Philippines

The Department of Health first reported a case of COVID-19 in the Philippines on January 30. The patient is a 38-year old woman from Wuhan who arrived from Hongkong last January 21. Since it is a new disease, doctors are still learning about it and the WHO is also working closely with the Department of Health (DOH) for proper ways of response.

Symptoms

Stay informed on COVID-19 to help yourself avoid infection.

Majority of the infected will have symptoms like:

  1. fever
  2. flu-like symptoms like coughing, sore throat, and fatigue
  3. shortness of breath

Other symptoms may include joint pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, and diarrhea. If you experience any of these, we recommended you seek immediate medical help.

How do people get COVID-19?

The virus spreads through:

  • close contact with an infected person 
  • contact with droplets from an infected person’s cough or sneeze
  • touching surfaces with droplets from an infected person, and then touching your mouth or face

You have a greater risk of infection if:

  • You’ve had close contact with someone who has COVID-19 
  • You’ve recently traveled to an area with confirmed cases of COVID-19

People most susceptible to the disease are:

  • the elderly
  • the immunocompromised (have weak immune systems or are sakitin)
  • those with chronic illnesses (e.g. diabetes, lung disease, etc.)

Some people may also be asymptomatic (or not experience any symptoms), despite being COVID-19 positive. Immunocompromised and older people may get infected more easily because of the false assurance of a lack of symptoms in others. This is why though statistics show that the majority of the cases of infections are mild and that more than half of patients fully recover, we must all still remain vigilant and careful.

The healthcare system in the Philippines definitely still needs improvement. Should COVID-19 cases begin to skyrocket, our hospitals might not be able to accommodate everyone. Some patients might be left untreated. This is the worst-case scenario that we are all trying to avoid.

Steps to take for protection:

Wash your hands frequently.

Practice hand-washing thoroughly with soap and water. Any rubbing alcohol and hand sanitizer that you use must contain alcohol content of at least 70%.

Don’t touch parts of your face.

When an infected person coughs or sneezes, they transfer water droplets to different surfaces. The danger here is that we also often touch surfaces unconsciously. Thus, it is important that we avoid touching our face, eyes, nose, and mouth without first disinfecting our hands. This is to avoid transmission of the virus. 

Cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing.

Cover your mouth and nose with the inside of your elbow or a clean tissue when coughing or sneezing. Throw away the used tissue and sanitize your hands after.

Avoid crowded places.

If one person is infected, there is a high risk of rapid spread. If you have the opportunity to work from home, please do so.

Get checked if you experience symptoms.

Above all, listen to your body. If you have any symptoms, make sure to get yourself tested at a hospital or medical facility. 

Get information from trusted sources.

Make sure that information you read are from reliable sources (e.g. World Health Organization (WHO), Department of Health (DOH), local health providers, etc.).

Avoiding panic-buying and hoarding.

When you hoard hand sanitizer, alcohol, and surgical masks, you are putting yourself more at risk by taking resources away from the sick. Infected and immunocompromised people need them more to avoid transmission. Let’s not deny others the opportunity to protect themselves. 

Enhanced Community Quarantine

Since most of the infected patients reside in Metro Manila, the region is now under a community quarantine. All classes are suspended until April 14. Travel to and from the National Capital Region (NCR) is limited to those with official work obligations. Domestic land, air, and sea travel is now restricted. Work has also been suspended in Luzon. Selected cities have been implementing a curfew beginning 8pm until 5am of the next day.

Given all this, we urge everyone to remain at home as much as you can. This is for the good of not just yourselves, but for the entire community as well.

Stay safe, Atomees!

Now that COVID-19 is in the Philippines, all of us at Atome hope that you take care of your health and well-being. To practice social distancing, we highly encourage that you utilize online channels of payment and communication. You can also choose to work from home, if your company allows it. Let us all get through this crisis together.

Atome hopes that you always stay safe and healthy!

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