Controlling COVID-19 from Spreading

By Henrylito D. Tacio

Multi-awarded Filipino actor Christopher de Leon admitted last March 17, on Instagram, that he was tested positive for the dreaded coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

“Today, our doctor confirmed that I have COVID-19,” he wrote.  “I’ve had no recent travel history outside of the Philippines and no known contact with anyone who is positive to have the virus.  However, due to the nature of my work in the entertainment business, I have interacted with many people.”

The actor, who is currently appearing in the television series, Love Thy Woman, urged those who has come in contact with him “to observe stringent self-quarantine, observe for symptoms and follow the triage procedures published by DOH (Department of Health), whether asymptomatic or not.”

If a famous person like De Leon could be infected with the pathogen that causes COVID-19, how much more for the ordinary people?  This must be the reason why President Rodrigo R. Duterte last March 16 placed the country under the state of calamity for six months “unless earlier lifted or extended as circumstances may warrant.”

Comparable to that of Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster which happened at Ukraine in 1986.  That was how Prof. Dali Yang, a political scientist at the University of Chicago, compared the viral disease that is sweeping the world today, including the Philippines.

“It will be a crisis of Chernobyl proportions, especially because we will have to contend with the virus for the years to come,” he was quoted as saying by the South China Morning Post.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is doing its best to control the spread of the virus which has already killed almost 8,000 people around the globe.  “WHO has clear advice for government, businesses and individuals: first, prepare and be ready,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in a press conference in Geneva.

“Every person must know the signs and symptoms and how to protect themselves and others,” Dr. Tedros said.  “Every health worker should be able to recognize this disease, provide care and know what to do with their patients.”

According to the WHO, the incubation period – the time from exposure to onset of symptoms – is about two weeks.  The common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.  In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.

Detect, protect and treat – that’s the second advice from WHO.  “You can’t fight a virus if you don’t know where it is,” Dr. Tedros said.  “Find, isolate, test and treat every case to break the chains of transmission.  Every case we find and treat limits the expansion of the disease.”

In another press briefing, Dr. Tedros recommended: “If they test positive, isolate them and find out who they have been in close contact with up to 2 days before they developed symptoms and test those people too.” (The WHO recommends testing contacts of confirmed cases only if they show symptoms of COVID-19.)

The third advice: reduce transmission.  “Do not just let this fire burn; isolate the sick and quarantine their contacts,” Dr. Tedros explained. “In addition, measures that increase social distancing… may help reduce transmission.  Even if you cannot stop transmission, you can slow it down and save lives.”

Social distancing is based on a principle that you don’t know who’s infected and you’re separating, putting social distance between everyone.  “Social distancing is a tried and tested method in slowing down the pace of epidemic spread,” the WHO says.

The fourth advice: innovate and learn.  “This is a new virus and a new situation,” Dr. Tedros admitted.  “We’re all learning and we must all find new ways to prevent infections, saves lives and minimize impacts.  All countries have lessons to share.  There are simple, effective things we can all to do reduce the risk of infection for ourselves and those around us; clean our hands regularly with an alcohol-based rub or soap and water.

“Cover your mouth and nose with your elbow if you cough or sneeze,” Dr. Tedros continued.  “Stay home, if you’re sick, avoid necessary travel and large social gatherings; comply with the advice of your local or national health authority; find and share reliable information; and finally, you can give.”

Meanwhile, a briefer from the Ministry of Health in Singapore shares the following signs and symptoms of a person having COVID-19.  From the first to third days, the symptoms are similar to cold, mild throat pains, and no fever and not tired.  The person still consumes food and drink as normal.

On the fourth day, the person experiences the following: throat a little bit painful; body feels like drunk; voice becoming hoarse; body temperature around 36.5°; beginning of disturbance in eating habits; mild headaches and mild diarrhea.

On the fifth day, there is mild body heat; body temperature is between 36.5°-36.7°.  Other signs: throat pain and hoarse voice; weak body; and feeling joint pains.

On the sixth day, mild fever with temperature around 37° starts.  The person experiences the following: dry cough, exhausted and nauseous, occasional difficulty in breathing, fingers feeling pain, and diarrhea and vomiting.  The throat is painful while eating, swallowing food or talking.

On the seventh day, these symptoms appear: higher fever from 37.4°-37.8°; coughing incessantly with phlegm; body pains and headache; worsening diarrhea; and vomiting.

On the eighth day, the fever increases to around 38° or above 38°.  The person is having breathing difficulties; heavy feeling in the chest when breathing.  Also, he experiences incessant coughs, headaches, joint becoming lame, and buttocks pain.

On the ninth day, symptoms remain unchanged but becoming worse.  The fever is worsening so is cough.  The person is having difficulties in breathing and struggling hard to breathe.  At this stage, blood tests and chest x-ray must be conducted immediately.

In the Philippines, a strict quarantine is being observed in all households as President Duterte declared enhanced community quarantine in Luzon.  In some parts of the country, community quarantine or partial lockdown have been implemented.

While the world is trying to control the spread of the virus and find a vaccine that could obliterate it, some people are contemplating on what would happen in the coming days.

Here’s a thought, written by Kitty O’Meara, which has been circulating in social media:

“And the people stayed home.  And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learn new ways of being, and were still.  And listened more deeply.  Some meditated, some prayed, some danced.  Some met their shadows.  And the people began to think differently.

“And the people healed.  And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.

“And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earthly fully, as they had been healed.” – ###

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