The coronavirus is a family of viruses that causes respiratory symptoms in humans – including the common cold (rhinovirus) and the more lethal kind, such as; MERS, SARS, and COVID-19.
What started as an outbreak of pneumonia and respiratory illness in Wuhan province has become a global pandemic which has affected 23 million people with 806,000 deaths and counting.
In the Philippine, as of now 187,427 people are confirmed to have contracted the virus, with 2,966 deaths. The average number of new cases ranges from 1,000 to 4,000 per day, in part due to the accreditation of more testing facilities and better public access.
The Medical Situation in the Philippines
The dramatic increase in the number of cases in the Philippines during the past 3 months particularly in Metro Manila and nearby provinces has brought about an increase in the occupancy of hospital beds.
Hospitals, especially the Emergency Room and Intensive Care Units are currently overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases to the point that some patients are being diverted to provincial hospitals.
Most, if not all hospitals, in Metro Manila have declared full capacity for COVID-19 patients, partly the result of healthcare workers contracting the virus and later on requiring hospital care.
Masks and Face Shields
As the virus is transmitted through droplets sneezed or secreted by an infected person the easiest route of transmission is through the nostrils and mouth. The wearing of face masks, especially in public places, is therefore highly recommended and in fact is mandated by the Philippine government.
To prevent further spread of the virus make sure to wear a fresh medical/surgical mask every day and avoid touching the mask while wearing it. You can also use a fabric non-surgical mask however the World Health Organization recommends to wash it every day after use.
Face shields have also been mandated by the Philippine government to be used in public transportation, workplaces and public establishments, such as malls.
A face shield however, should not be used as a substitute for a mask, which is the main additional protection against infectious diseases.
What we can do to prevent spread
The medical and scientific community remain hopeful that a vaccine will soon be developed to protect the general population and in turn, protect those whose immune systems that have been compromised (the elderly, diabetics, people with lung or heart conditions).
To prevent the spread of the virus we should practice physical distancing (more than 2 meters apart especially in public places), frequent handwashing and wearing masks and other protective equipment when outside your home.
The Department of Health also recommends limiting trips for essential needs and immediate isolation and consultation once a person develops symptoms. If you develop symptoms (i.e. cough, colds, fever, loss of taste or smell, joint pains, body weakness or diarrhoea), please consult your doctor for assessment and timely testing.