Catch up with the community 

  • 29 Apr 2021 8:45 AM | Anonymous

    Al Fresco dining in the Philippines is the ‘in thing’ right now. Not only due to the Summer season but also, the unique limitations of our friend Covid-19!

    Tagaytay, at an altitude of 600-650m is the perfect spot to escape from Manila and quite literally, chill out. It is only a 60-80 minute drive from Makati. Here are the Top 5 family style, moderately priced restaurants with Al Fresco dining in Tagaytay:


    Arguably Tagaytay’s best steakhouse and only a few minutes’ drive from The Rotonda, Fire Lake Grill has unbeatable views over Lake Taal, and the Taal Volcano.

    Hands on owner, Chef Paul Huang, is a very amiable chap.

    Fabulous continental grill cuisine is on offer, (Meat/Fish/Pasta/Risotto/Salads, etc). Featuring a selection of wines from Zen Asia.

    Fire Lake Grill has been consistently awarded as one of “The Philippines' Best Restaurants for 12 years running by Tatler Philippines.

    Fire Lake Grill

    Tagaytay Ridge Road

    Unit 3 Cliffhouse Tagaytay

    Tagaytay City, Cavite

    Tel no: (046) 483-2069

    Cell Phone no: 0927 914 4604


    (Previously known as Don Limone)

    Inspired by the beautiful wine growing region of northern California, Napa Grill is where the eclectic and farm fresh California cuisine meets the splendors of Tagaytay. You can find an abundance of locally grown produce, with a touch of Lebanese and Mexican influences. 

    Napa Grill is owned and managed by, Allen and Betty Tadayon; a very hospitable couple. 

    Created by a team of internationally experienced culinary professionals, Napa Grill's menu includes a wide range of fresh seafood and salads, grilled meats, and house baked breads. The Lebanese platter is superb!

    Their large wine collection includes a great selection from Greece and Italy.

    From the traditional wood burning fireplace to the romantic garden patio, Napa Grill offers a warm and rustic ambiance, for a memorable Tagaytay dining experience.

    Napa Grill

    1.1 km West of Mahogany

    Market, 1.2 km West

    For reservations call:

    0932 873 2316 or 09175342568 

    3. Marcia Adams’ Restaurant

    Owned and operated by Chef Marcia and her entertaining English husband Neil Adams. This garden-based Mediterranean restaurant and events venue is right on the edge of Tagaytay.

    There are 6 dining locations around the garden, and all areas use natural ventilation. The menu includes dishes from around the Mediterranean including  Spanish, French, Italian, Greek, Turkish and Moroccan cooking styles.

    Complementing the home made food dishes is a range of fine wines from Zen Asia Inc. 

    Marcia Restaurant is also a magic venue for private functions, weddings and corporate events. When there  are no special quarantine protocols in force, the restaurant can accommodate up to 200 guests. 

    Marcia Adams’ Restaurant 

    JP.Rizal St, Brgy Sikat, 4123 Alfonso, Cavite 

    Located along the border of Tagaytay and

    Alfonso, Cavite, across Ville Sommet.

    4. Breakfast at Antonio’s

    If you love breakfast then Breakfast at Antonio’s is a must. They serve an all day breakfast and bistro style menu. Their extensive menu means they cater for all taste and its always been a hit when I’ve taken friends and family visiting from overseas. They even have a bakery so you can continue to enjoy freshly baked bread, home made jams and sweet treats in the comfort of your own home.

    The restaurant interior is beautiful with large windows opening out to the picturesque view of Taal lake while you enjoy your meal. The cool breeze is a nice welcome after escaping the Manila heat or hiking up Taal Volcano.

    Breakfast at Antonio’s is part of the Antonio’s group of restaurants all located in Tagaytay City. Each restaurant providing a unique ambience to the other, so check them out too.

    Breakfast at Antonio’s

    Emilio Aguinaldo Highway Barangay


    4120 Cavite

    5. Sonya's Garden

    A bit like Singapore's status as a city within a garden, Sonya's Garden truly feels like a restaurant that has been worked into a beautiful garden. The level of Zen achieved is incredible. The abundance of plants, flowers and wholesome food create a peaceful and romantic afternoon. 

    Their ability to cater for allergies with alternative and unique ingredients is certainly a plus for those who struggle. Though it's definitely recommended to book in advance if you're putting them to the challenge. 

    You may even spot Sonya walking around the property checking on her plants. 

    Sonya's Garden

    Barangay Buck Estate


    4123 Cavite 

    If you're new to Manila and haven't made a trip down to Tagaytay yet, try to leave by 10am to beat the traffic. Most drivers take the South Super Highway via Santa Rosa route, but there are alternative more scenic and less stressful ways to and from Tagaytay. 

    Your Author 

    Lester Harvey is the managing director of Zen Asia Inc and lives between Manila and Cavite. Lester came from New Zealand to the Philippines over 44 years ago and has been supplying a full range of high quality wines to businesses across the country. 

    Don't forget, members of ANZA Manila get an incredible special offer from Zen Asia Inc. Order one case (12 bottles), and  they'll give you one free bottle of our choice.

  • 28 Apr 2021 9:40 AM | Anonymous

    I’ve gotten fat over lockdown. My pants feel tight. I’m eating more and moving less. Due to coronavirus, my summer body will be postponed until 2022 (at least). Thank you Food Panda.

    But let’s put this in perspective: a year’s worth of exercising less and stress-eating more isn’t a disaster. And that’s the point — gaining weight isn’t fun, but it isn’t a disaster.

    Despite the fact we are going through an unprecedented pandemic, the prevailing message on social media right now is that we’re somehow supposed to be “making the most” of our time spent in lockdown. Write that novel! Organise your closet! Bake bread! Get fit!

    Now, I don’t blame anyone for taking up a hobby in order to distract themselves. You can only have so many conversations with your dog until you begin to feel completely deranged. But that last one—the idea that we should be using all this “extra time” to lose weight, or at least not gain any—moves beyond feeling productive and gives into that societal fear I thought we were finally, thankfully, moving past: Getting “fat.”

    So many worse things can happen. At a minimum, I could get a bad case of Covid-19, or someone close to me could get a bad case of Covid-19. I’m trying to practice self-compassion. As much of a broken record this must sound like by now, I will say it again: we are not living in normal times.

    Besides, stress is bad for your immune system. For once, we shouldn’t feel guilty about relaxing, even if the relaxing comes with a side of gelato (I’m looking at you Farmacy). If it’s done in moderation and helps lower our stress, I say go for it.

    Occasionally I fear that I’m treating the pandemic too much like a holiday. I have the privilege of working from home, so I spend most days in pajamas, on my bed, in a climate-controlled cave. I fear that I’ll get lazy and unmotivated from a year of doing, well, not much.

    And I won’t know how true my fear is until I get vaccinated and live somewhat normally again. Yet, I’m also trying to be optimistic. I find myself dreaming about the holidays we will, hopefully, take in 2022. Bring it on.

    Your Author 

    Kimberly Fisher Horan is an Australian Fashion Editor, Stylist & Writer based in Manila Philippines. Co-Founder of Sitara Vintage & founder of TPNW shoes

    Check out The Perfect Nude Wedge and Sitara Vintage to see Kimbo’s designs.

  • 24 Dec 2020 9:51 AM | Anonymous

    What a whirlwind this year has been. As many of your families have been through the ups and downs over this year. ANZA Manila certainly has too.

    Cancelling the ball was tough, but a necessity to keep the community safe, and juggling the support for our members and community with financial restrictions created some interesting challenges.

    However, our dedicated executive committee along with our kind hearted members persevered and smashed the challenge to get our association to a good place and thankfully we end this year on a high. We were still able to provide 712,000 in donations to Roots of Health Charity, we were able to raise 45,000 with F45 for the Typhoon relief projects and delivered a truckload of presents to the Children’s Hospital in Quezon City. Thank you to everyone who donated!

    I want to say a massive thank you to the past Executive committee members Kelly, Shelley, Chris and Kelly for all of your hard work and handing over the reigns to our energised new members Sonia, Lauren and myself as president. A special thank-you to Daisy, Belinda and Mark for their years of service and continued support for our members.

    ANZA Manila is in a much better place financially and have been hosting many events which we have been so happy to see you joining.

    If you have any ANZ friends or people who want to get involved, encourage them to register their membership. We have some great plans for 2021 and can’t wait to see you all in the new year.

    Merry Christmas to you all and your families from myself and ANZA Manila.

    Cameron Quin


    Australia & New Zealand Social Association

  • 23 Oct 2020 7:29 AM | Anonymous

    Our truck now doubles as a mobile clinic, in order to provide contraceptive services wherever they are needed. 

    by Roots of Health 

    We have now entered the last quarter of 2020, and have passed 6 months since the coronavirus pandemic changed our world. Palawan has continued to be on modified community quarantine, which requires everyone to use face masks and face shields whenever they leave their home, limits the number of people who can gather together in person, and continues to restrict the movements of people, including young people under the age of 21. Private schools began online classes in August, and the public schools resumed in early October. The Department of Education is employing blended learning techniques, and in Palawan, this entails parents picking up school packets for their children on Monday, and returning them answered on Friday. We have been told that there will be no in-person schooling until 2021, or until there is a readily-available vaccine.

    While we cannot teach young people about their reproductive health in person, we have been engaging youth with informational and educational materials about reproductive health online using Facebook. In addition to generating content targeting adolescents, we have also created online groups for other people that influence the youth - groups for youth leaders, for parents, for teachers, and for community health workers. We believe that the more these stakeholders know about adolescent sexual and reproductive health, the better they can support young people in protecting their health and futures.

    A Young woman receives her DMPA injection, which prevents pregnancy for three months.

    Since young people and women still need contraceptive services, we have continued to operate our clinic with strict safety protocols. We have also continued to provide community-based services to people who request them, so that they can access their contraception from the safety of their own homes and communities. As long as our services are needed, we will continue to ensure that we meet the demands of our clients to help them protect their health.

    One of our young clients opting to have an implant inserted, in order to avoid an unplanned pregnancy for three years.

    I’d like to say a special thank you to Daisy Pope-Brien and her incredible team who worked so hard to raise support for our programs and services --- not an easy task given COVID and cancelled events! Thank you so much as well to all of the ANZA members and donors. We appreciate your generosity so much. COVID is testing our capacities and making our work ever-more challenging to carry out, but with supporters like all of you, I feel confident we will be able to continue providing women and young people the essential services they need to protect their health and safeguard their futures. Thank you for being our partner in this important work.

    Another young client receives anesthesia to have her expired implant removed, and a new one put in.

    I hope that you and your families are staying safe and healthy.

    Amina Evangelista Swanepoel

    Executive Director, Roots of Health 

  • 21 Oct 2020 8:15 AM | Anonymous

    It’s become fashionable to dislike Sauvignon Blanc, according to dinner party chatter recently.

    At a table of eight people, five vehemently refused to touch a drop of it, even if they were trapped on a desert island and that’s all there was to drink. Two of us professed to like Sauvignon Blanc, and one felt ambivalent about this country’s top export wine.

    With your ANZA Manila membership you can redeem a free bottle of wine from Zen Asia when purchasing a case. See offer

    Taste in wine is subjective. Everyone can like or loathe whatever wine they choose, but this small survey runs counter to national sales figures if I’ve crunched the numbers correctly.

    New Zealand’s 2019 vintage yielded 302,157 tonnes of Sauvignon Blanc grapes. According to the latest export statistics, 86% of that figure is likely to be exported. That leaves 42,301 tonnes of Sauvignon Blanc destined for the local market.

    It also makes Sauvignon Blanc our most popular wine by a hefty margin. Pinot noir, the runner-up, produced 26,944 tonnes of grapes in 2019, and that’s before export figures are deducted. Chardonnay, then Pinot Gris follow close behind.

    Sauvignon Blanc pays the bills, put New Zealand on the world wine map, and is a clear leader in the domestic consumption stakes. I think it deserves a little more respect.”

    Bob Campbell MW Submitted by Lester A. Harvey, Managing Director of ZEN ASIA INC. importer of fine wines from NEW ZEALAND and AUSTRALIA

    With your ANZA Manila membership you can redeem a free bottle of wine from Zen Asia when purchasing a case. See offer

  • 16 Oct 2020 2:28 PM | Anonymous

    If you have ever been involved in organising a large-scale event, you will know that it takes a lot of blood, sweat and tears to give your attendees everything you have promised. Our committee who were tasked with organising this year’s Australia & New Zealand Association (ANZA) Charity Ball were no exception.

    Through our networks and beyond, we claimed that our ball would be the event of the year and we were hellbent on making sure that those words were an understatement. Every detail was planned with thoughtfulness, resourcefulness and with the goal of making sure every attendee had their expectations shattered and thousands of dollars would be raised for our charity.

    But that is not what happened...

    Cancelling the Ball

    I can vividly remember seeing the group whatsapp message suggesting we have to seriously consider cancelling the ball and my heart sinking. When we came face to face to discuss the next day, we had to make that hard decision to respect the views of our partners and to safeguard our members and friends. It would have been irresponsible if we had pushed through.

    It was like running 41km in a marathon and not being able to enjoy crossing the line.

    We decided that all of our hard work would not go in vein and to postpone rather than cancel, hoping to pick up the final stages later in the year once ‘this covid thing’ had passed.

    As the months of isolation dragged on, we soon realised this was an unrealistic goal and decided to officially cancel the event and plan how to unwind everything.

    So it not only felt like almost finishing the marathon, but like we were having to run all the way back to the start again.

    Money Issues

    Being a not-for-profit organization means we are not sitting on an abundance of cash to pay our ticket holders refunds and accept a loss on all the deposits we had made. We actually had staged targets [of ticket sales] to achieve our deposits, ability to run the event and then to make money for our charity on top.

    Soon began the struggle of chasing up all of our paid deposits and begging on hands and knees for refunds. Of course, we weren’t the only organisation struggling and so this was not an easy task. After some thorough following up, we eventually managed to get some of those deposits back. Certainly not all of the deposits but thankfully our largest. The deposit paid for the venue hire was fully refunded. That venue was New World Hotel Makati and they deserve a lot of respect for the way things were handled.

    Based on the amount of successful refunds we had received,  we calculated our maximum refund that we could give our ticket holders. It was a 70% partial refund. When we announced this and began the great ordeal of administering these refunds, we discovered a spectrum of attitudes. They ranged from demanding the full refund to can’t believing we managed as much as 70%. We of course were disheartened by the former and elated by the latter. Deep down, we knew we tried our best for our community.  

    Raising Charitable Funds

    Just before announcing the refund, we had decided we would still attempt to raise money for our charity despite not running the event. After all, the overall focus of the ball was raising much needed cash for Roots of Health. We had to try something. We had two ideas:

    The first was setting up a system for people to request their refund and then giving the option to donate their refund instead. We weren’t sure if many would take this option but were delighted when almost 30% of our attendees agreed and some even gave a bit extra. Pure kindness.

    We also had many prizes donated from local businesses for our auction at the ball. We had made contact with these businesses and requested to auction them off using an online platform instead of live at the ball. Again, to our surprise our community all got involved and made a variety of bids making sure all the prizes went to a good home and more funds were raised.

    Overall, through ticket refunds, the online auction and some kind souls adding in some extras, we managed to raise 712,000PHP for Roots of Health which is being transferred this week.

    Read their update on how the funds are being used. 

    I don’t wish this experience upon anyone. We certainly gained a few wrinkles and lost a few nights sleep. But experiencing people’s compassion and seeing the final figure that we are transferring has made it all worth it.

    Mark Blackwell

    Communications - ANZA Manila

  • 28 Aug 2020 12:50 PM | Anonymous


    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.

    Dr. Irene Umayam, International SOS Philippines

  • 28 May 2020 4:02 PM | Anonymous

    Although over 50% of us work away from the office at some point in our working weeks; over the coming weeks and months we are going to see homeworking become the standard for a far greater proportion of the working population. Research has shown that although this form of working is both a necessity and a choice for many, it is also associated with increased mental ill-health; particularly if that homeworking is for more than three days a week. Although the current situation is unprecedented, in that many of us will experience enforced homeworking, and will also be working in an environment with many other distractions, we have drawn on existing evidence to compile these suggestions to support you in maintaining your mental health and wellbeing during this period.

    1. Decide where at home work will happen

    One of the most common psychological challenges of homeworking is that of boundary management. If you can, choose one room to work from. Doing this maintains a psychological boundary between work and home, minimises disruption in your home and means you are less likely to be interrupted if you are sharing your home with others. Be mindful of decluttering and minimising distractions so that this physical space starts to occupy a work rather than personal context for you.

    2. Keep a regular routine

    Another way to maintain a psychological boundary between work and home whilst homeworking is to keep to a personal routine as similar to a ‘normal day at the office’ as possible. This means keeping your morning pre-work routine as normal as possible, for instance setting your alarm, showering and getting dressed. Although tempting, working in pyjamas is not good for either mental health or productivity!

    3. Have a clear end to your working day

    Without having the daily commute and the physical difference between home and work; and with our reliance on always available telecommunications, it is harder to actually stop work; and therefore homeworking can lead to a tendency to work 24-7. This puts us at a greater risk of stress and emotional exhaustion. Try and keep to a consistent end of day. You may find strategies such as setting an ‘out of office’ or having a separate telephone line for work (that you can switch off at the end of the day) helpful to support this. Think also about the negative impact that your 24-7 working may be having on your co-worker. Communicating your working hours, reinforcing this with your email signature, and using tools such as delayed send may also help support others mental health.

    4. Physiological health impacts upon psychological health

    Support yourself physiologically by conducting a risk assessment on your home-work environment. How could you maximise natural light and ventilation in your homeworking area? Are there any risks or trip hazards you could address? Think about the equipment that you will be using and whether it is fit for purpose. Think about your posture, for example the height of your desk and screen and the angles of your wrists to the keyboard. You can then use creative ways to adapt your workstation. Finally, are there any risks that your work could pose to others or do you need to protect your work from others? Consider how you might do this in your homeworking space.

    5. Reach out to others

    One of the most important psychological risks posed by homeworking is that of social isolation. There will be many people who are experiencing loneliness and isolation at the moment; on top of feeling anxious and fearful. In order to better manage both your mental health and that of others, be proactive in reaching out to others every day (be they colleagues, friends, family or those in your local community). Plan in regular meetings with colleagues; make adhoc communications with those you think may be most vulnerable to isolation, make use of virtual discussion forums to talk to others; research as much as possible so that you know who you can go to for help.

    6. As soon as possible, communicate with your co-workers about how you are going to work

    Generally, the way we work is influenced implicitly by our surroundings, our peers and our managers. When you are working consistently from home, this is harder and so at the beginning of this new arrangement talk to your colleagues about how you are all going to work together. This may be discussing your working hours, how you prefer to communicate (i.e. IM, email, phone, video-conferencing) and how often you would like to communicate. Relying on telecommunications has been shown to increase the likelihood of miscommunication; and without the social cues from physical contact this is more of a risk. Therefore acknowledge the difficulties this new way of working is going to pose, talk openly and honestly, and agree a strategy that will take into consideration everyone’s styles and needs.

    7. Prioritise informal communication

    Rather than a ‘nice to have’ or a distraction from the task, informal communication (i.e. non work conversations) has actually been found to be the ‘social glue’ that maintains and builds relationships and effective team working within organisations. Without being physically together (for instance meeting in the lift or at the kettle), the opportunities for adhoc informal communication are going to be reduced and this presents a real risk to your ability to continue to work effectively. Ideas include setting time at the beginning of each meeting to ‘check in’ with your colleagues; holding social webinars (which could be regular 15 minute breaks when anyone homeworking and around can dial in), having a morning ‘non-work huddle’ with your team, and planning three informal contact points per day (even if just a quick text).

    8. Build in regular respite to your day

    Without the social cues from the work environment (for instance people going for lunch or going to get a coffee), we are more likely when homeworking to sit at our desks all day without a break. This is detrimental both physiologically and psychologically. Breaks are necessary for us to cognitively recharge; and have been shown to be most effective when a) we are engaging in non-directed action (meaning that it is an unfocused activity such as having a chat with someone, going for a walk or meditating) and b) when it is your preferred activity. Take a break every 1 – 2 hours, focusing on respite and social connection. Avoid social media, news or TV. It is also important to build in your ‘wind-down’ time at the end of the working day. Generally we use our commute to and from work for this. In the absence of this, plan in a relaxing activity such as a walk, reading a book or a technique such as mindfulness and meditation to signal to yourself that you are finishing work for the day.

    9. Remember health promoting behaviours

    Homeworking is likely to have a detrimental impact on our health promoting behaviours; without the daily commute, set schedule and potentially our ability to go to the gym we are less likely to exercise; with the proximity of the kitchen at home are more likely to snack; and with extended working hours are less likely to sleep well. Health promoting behaviours have been shown to not just be important for physical health but also for protecting psychological health. Take time to consciously plan when and how you will exercise (for instance get fresh air during your breaks by walking around the block, or take an online exercise class), what you will eat and stick to standard working hours.

    And finally…

    10. Embrace the positives

    It is important to acknowledge that being able to work from home is a luxury that many workers during this difficult time are not afforded. Use this time to reflect on the positives coming out of this experience – what works for you, what new strategies have you developed in your ways of working and communicating and what have you learned? Does this difficult time present you with an opportunity to engage more with your family, or to achieve a healthier work-life balance, or enable you to focus on your home?

    About Affinity Health at Work

    Affinity Health at Work is a workplace health and wellbeing consultancy and research group led by Dr Rachel Lewis and Dr Joanna Yarker (both registered occupational psychologists). We aim to improve organisational performance by enhancing workplace health and wellbeing. Everything we do is driven by research and sound evidence. We are actively involved in both research and practice to ensure that we are at the cutting edge in our field. This way, our research is designed to be directly applied in the workplace and our consultancy clients receive services that are informed and underpinned by approaches, methodologies and content that are both up-to-date and proven to work.

    Dr. Rachel Lewis, Director, Affinity Health at Work & Dr. Laurent Taymans,International SOS Philippines

  • 29 Feb 2020 12:40 PM | Anonymous


    On January 30, 2020, the first imported case of COVID-19 (formerly referred to as Novel Coronavirus) was confirmed from a 38-year-old Chinese national who had arrived in the Philippines on January 21 from Wuhan, China via Hong Kong.

    The Department of Health (DOH) in the Philippines has since reported three confirmed COVID-19 cases with over a hundred admitted patients under investigation (PUI) as of February 26.

    As this health situation continues to rapidly evolve it is important for the public to know the right information on the virus and be equipped with ways to protect themselves and their families both at home and in the workplace.

    The Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)

    The 2019-nCoV was identified in January 2020 as the cause of an outbreak of pneumonia originating in Wuhan, China, which initially started in December 2019. Around 25% of cases in China are severe and a growing number of fatalities have been recorded.

    The virus was renamed Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), and the disease that it causes was called Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19).

    About Coronaviruses

    Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some of which can infect people. Some cause mostly mild illness, such as the strains responsible for certain types of common cold. Others can potentially lead to severe, or even fatal disease - such as the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV), which continues to circulate in some parts of the world.

    The Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2003 was also caused by a coronavirus. It caused severe and fatal disease but is no longer in circulation.

    The natural reservoir for coronaviruses is thought to be animal hosts. New strains that emerge from this reservoir infect an ‘intermediate’ host, and from there lead on to infect people. The viruses may then be capable of being transmitted from one person to another. Some viruses are efficient at human-to-human transmission, whilst others are not.

    Symptoms of COVID-19

    While the illness is still being studied it is known that the common symptoms include fever, cough, shortness of breath and difficulty of breathing. It is important to note however that these symptoms are not limited to COVID-19. Respiratory illnesses and pneumonia caused by other organisms (including bacteria) and other viruses (such as influenza) can also cause these symptoms.

    COVID-19 can cause severe illness and a growing number of infected people have died. It is possible that people with underlying health conditions are at a higher risk for severe disease.

    How does COVID-19 spread?

    The transmission of the disease is from person to person, i.e. from a sick person to others who are in close contact. Although the exact way this happens is still being investigated it is probably occurring in the same way as other respiratory infections, including colds and flu, are transmitted, through infected respiratory droplets. The sick person expels these when they cough, sneeze, or talk. Others can get the disease via contact (direct or indirect) with these contaminated droplets.

    Initially the virus may have 'jumped’ from the environment to humans. Preliminary information suggests that this coronavirus was “zoonotic” - transmitted from an animal source to humans. The initial group of cases appeared to have a common source of exposure - a live animal and seafood market in Wuhan, China.

    What are some practical tips to protect ourselves?

    • Avoid potential exposure. Practice good hygiene measures and safe food practices.
    • Avoid direct contact with animals (live or dead) and their environment. Do not touch surfaces that may be contaminated with animal droppings.
    • Keep some distance from people who are obviously sick.
    • Maintain good personal hygiene. Wash your hands frequently. Carry a hand sanitiser for use when soap and water are not readily available. Avoid touching your face.
    • Ensure food, including eggs, is thoroughly cooked.
    • Do not travel if you are sick. Note that some locations have implemented screening and travellers may face quarantine and testing.

    When do we use face masks?

    There two types of face masks available in the market: surgical masks and respirators (i.e. N95 masks). The N95 mask is recommended for health professionals who work with patients for long periods of time. The surgical mask is the most commonly used mask that helps to prevent the spread of infection.

    The World Health Organization (WHO) has provided a simple guideline when to use a face mask and the proper way to put on, use, take-off and dispose of a mask:

    When to use a mask

    • -       For healthy people wear a mask only if you are taking care of a person with suspected COVID-19 infection.
    • -       Wear a mask, if you are coughing or sneezing.
    • -       Masks are effective only when used in combination with frequent hand-cleaning with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.

    How to put on, take off and dispose of a mask

    • -       Before putting on a mask, clean your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
    • -       Cover your mouth and nose with the mask and make sure there are no gaps between your face and the mask.
    • -       Avoid touching the mask while using it; if you do, clean your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
    • -       Replace the mask with a new one as soon as it is damp and do not re-use single use masks.
    • -       To remove the mask: remove from behind (do not touch the front of mask); discard immediately in a closed bin; clean hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.

    What is the treatment for COVID-19?

    The treatment of the new coronavirus is supportive with medication to reduce fever and to support and improve respiratory function. There is no specific antiviral therapy against this disease however trials are underway.

    Is there a vaccine against COVID-19?

    There is no available vaccine against COVID-19, however research and development has commenced.

    Can we still travel outside the Philippines?

    As of January 30, 2020, several flight operators announced temporary suspension or the reduction of flights on routes serving China amid travel restrictions imposed in the country to contain the COVID-19 outbreak. We advise travelers to defer all travel to Hubei province in China due to official travel restrictions in place in some cities, plus the potential for further sudden restrictions on departure and the risk of quarantine at their next destination. Members should also defer travel to other areas of China as advised by their local national authorities. Even in the absence of such advisories, members should consider deferring non-essential travel to the rest of mainland China based on their own considerations and risk assessment.

    Is it safe to travel within the Philippines?

    While there has been no directive from the DOH that prohibits travel within the Philippines, caution must still be taken especially with non-essential travel. Screening measures in public establishments such as airports, hotels and resorts are in place with respective protocols on those who have recently traveled to countries with travel bans due to COVID-19.

    On February 18 the DOH together with the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), and the Department of Tourism (DOT) issued a joint statement on public gatherings assuring everyone that it is “safe to organise and attend public gatherings, meetings, and festivals as long as all precautionary measures identified by the DOH are observed”.

    The DOH further reminded the general public on proper hand hygiene and to seek medical attention when symptoms of cough, colds, sore throat and fever are present.

    Dr. Irene Umayam, International SOS Philippines 

  • 30 Jan 2020 12:35 PM | Anonymous


    Rubeola, more commonly known as Measles, is a viral infection primarily affecting a person’s respiratory system. It spreads through the air via droplets from an infected person. Measles is highly infectious but can be easily prevented through vaccination.

    Is there a Measles outbreak in the Philippines?

    In Manila, cases multiplied ten-fold from 351 cases in 2017 to 3,646 cases in 2018. By February 2019 a surge in measles cases prompted health authorities to declare an outbreak in Metro Manila. More than 35,000 cases were reported with a fatality rate of 1.37% nationwide. This outbreak may be partly caused by the rapid decrease in compliance to vaccinations since 2017 in the Philippines due to the Dengvaxia controversy.

    How does measles affect a person?

    The infection may start like any flu-like syndrome – fever, cough and red eyes. The start of the infection is then followed by itchy rashes which spread from the head to the chest, arms and legs.

    A person is considered contagious 4 to 14 days after the appearance of the rash. Complications may include ear or lung infections. This can be very serious to those who are unvaccinated, particularly young children.


    What is the treatment for Measles?

    The treatment for measles is supportive – paracetamol is given for fever and antihistamines for the itchy rashes and redness. No antivirals are indicated for measles as healthy individuals can produce antibodies to fight the disease.

    How can the spread of measles be prevented?

    Measles is considered to be very contagious as it is transmitted through droplets from sneezing and coughing with the ability of the virus to remain airborne for the next two hours. To minimize the spread of measles and to recover from the illness, infected patients are advised to stay indoors, stay hydrated, take their medications and practice frequent hand washing.

    Measles can be prevented through vaccination. The first dose of the measles vaccine is given at age 9 months. Infants and children should receive two doses of the vaccine in combination (measles, mumps, rubella or MMR vaccine) in their first year and the second dose one month later. Adults should also be updated with their MMR vaccine with a single dose of the injected vaccine.

    Dr. Irene Umayam, International SOS Philippines

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