The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) “crisis is very, very clear,” President Rodrigo Duterte told the nation on Thursday (March 12), as the government moved to place Metro Manila under “community quarantine” to prevent the further spread of the virus.
As of writing, there are 52 confirmed coronavirus positive cases in the Philippines. Duterte urged Filipinos to cooperate and heed the advice of health authorities. “Sundin ho ninyo ang mga sinasabi ng mga doctor. It’s only the medical people and experts who can help us, so listen to them.”
Infectious disease specialist Dr. Edsel Maurice Salvana took to social media to dispense tips that would hopefully calm the public’s nerves. He is also part of the Department of Health’s Technical Advisory Group for COVID-19 that proposed the measures that are in the Executive Order announced by President Duterte on March 12.
He stressed that the Philippines’ health system cannot handle the same massive amount of cases like the other infected countries. “If we go with what we have in front of us, 52 positive cases, this seems small. But from what we know of the experiences of more developed countries, waiting before we have a significant number of cases is a recipe for disaster,” he said.
“We cannot afford to see the number of cases other places have seen,” he added.
While the country prepares to ride out the pandemic, Dr. Salvana gave out some recommendations.
1. Stay home if you can
He noted that massive transmissions in Singapore and South Korea were caused by church gatherings. Staying at home would prevent the spread of virus.
Salvana recommended those in the workforce to make arrangements with their offices. Kids should also be kept at home.
“The virus spreads because people move around,” he said.
2. Practice stringent social distancing
If it’s not possible to spend majority of your time at home, it’s best to keep at least one arm-length from each other to minimize physical contact.
“In public transport, ideally windows should be open with adequate ventilation. But DO NOT GO OUT if you are sick unless it is to go to a hospital.”
3. Sick with respiratory symptoms? Contact a health professional
Salvana said the Department of Health (DOH) is setting up hotlines for easy access to a health professional. “If you are seriously ill, put on a mask and proceed to the nearest Level 2 or 3 emergency room,” he stressed.
4. Do not insist on testing if you have no respiratory symptoms
Asymptomatic testing is only recommended for healthcare workers and critical personnel.
“For the general public, if you think you had a close (within 6 feet) contact with a COVID-19 case, please do self quarantine at HOME for 14 days. If you absolutely have to go out, wear a mask.”
5. Be patient with healthcare workers
Since hospitals will prioritize those that are considered “severe and critical” cases, Salvana asked the public to be patient with the healthcare system.
“If this gets worse, we may need to recommend EVEN MORE STRINGENT measures,” he said.
He assured the Filipino people that if everyone cooperates, the current situation is expected to last a month.
“Please help our country protect the most vulnerable of our citizens — the elderly and the sick. Their lives now depend on you.”