I’m sorry for not posting as much as I should. To give you an update, a lot of friends and relatives are testing positive for COVID-19 this week, and has been confirmed with RT-PCR. So I have been very busy helping them lead through what may seem like a tumultuous period in their mind.
For some, being tested positive for COVID-19 is similar to having a death sentence. A relative became depressed and started reflecting about his life and what-should-I-have done-if-only-I-knew. After 2 days, the swab result revealed he was negative despite testing positive twice for COVID-19 in a rapid test.
A friend had a factory whose manager dropped dead of COVID-19 like symptoms last Sunday. When they did the swab test, 70-80% of the tested were positive. They were all asymptomatic. Nobody knew they were positive, and many had become carriers without knowing it. The factory is shut down for the next two weeks.
As the number of COVID-19 cases are on the rise, it is becoming more real that companies are prepared for the possibility that someone in their workforce will test positive. Here are my notes on my talk to my own employees, making sure they get the correct news from me and not just on social media:
- How do we get COVID-19?
- What are the common COVID-19 symptoms?
- Is it usual to get COVID-19 from an asymptomatic carrier?
- Why should we panic? Who should we NOT panic?
- What happens when one worker in the company tests positive of COVID-19 via rapid test?
- Are the days on home quarantine paid?
- What does it mean when you do home quarantine?
- Are there any vaccines available for COVID-19?
- What is my personal opinion about the situation as of July 25, 2020?
- If there’s a lot of COVID-19 positive people running around, why are we still open? What are we waiting for?
10 Questions Answered on the Rising Number of COVID-19 Cases and How We Are Approaching It
I have already talked to my staff regarding the rising cases of COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila. The main point of the message is, “This is it. COVID-19 is here, and here’s how we should approach it.”
Source: Department of Health
A lot of what I said were merely reiterations of the message I gave pre-GCQ. However, people were afraid and needed some reassurance. I thought staying truthful is better. So I talked to my staff matter-of-factly without any fluff. So at least they know what’s coming and what they will expect in the next coming days:
1. Again, how do we get COVID-19?
COVID-19 is contracted by DIRECT CONTACT to a COVID-19 positive patient, be it they are with or without symptoms via:
- Provide direct care of a COVID-19 positive person without proper PPE. This is a reason why so many healthcare workers get COVID-19.
- Face-to-face contact with a confirmed case within 1 meter and for more than15 minutes
- Direct physical contact with a confirmed case
The COVID-19 virus spreads primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes, so it’s important that you also practice respiratory etiquette (for example, by coughing into a flexed elbow). These droplets are then inhaled by another person. It does not transfer via touching of feces. This is why COVID-19 transmission usually occurs among close contacts — including family members and healthcare workers. It is therefore important to maintain a distance of more than 1 meter away from any person who has respiratory symptoms.
This is a reason why we have to wear face masks, face shields, wash hands and maintain social distancing. The chances are bigger we contracted COVID-19 from someone we know, due to prolonged exposure, than a stranger.
2. What are the common COVID-19 symptoms?
Source: Health Direct
- Most common symptoms: Fever, Dry cough, Tiredness. This is why temperature is taken before a person is admitted to work. Temperature of 37.5° C
- Less serious symptoms: Sore throat, body pains, headache, fever, flu-like symptoms (cough, cold, body malaise, fatigue), diarrhoea, loss of taste or smell, Conjunctivitis (or pink eye)
- Serious symptoms: Difficulty in breathing or shortness of breath, Chest pain or pressure, Loss of speech or movement
Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don’t feel unwell. These are what we call as asymptomatic carriers.
Older people and those with underlying medical conditions such as high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes are most likely to develop severe or critical form of COVID-19.
3. Is it usual to get COVID-19 from an asymptomatic carrier?
Remember, COVID-19 is only spread through respiratory droplets coughed by an infected person. Therefore, if an infected person does not cough, he/she most likely will not infect others. However, many infected persons only experience mild symptoms. This is particularly true at the early stages of the disease. It is therefore possible to get COVID-19 from an infected person with mild cough but is not feeling ill.
4. Why should we panic? Who should we NOT panic?
Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment.
For the majority – especially for children and young adults – illness due to COVID-19 is generally minor. So far, as if July 24, 1,871 or 2.51% of the confirmed cases has died of COVID-19 out of 74,390 confirmed in the Philippines.
Source: Worldometer, July 2020
This is in line of the death rate projections of the WHO — COVID-19 could be fatal, but this happens rarely. According to WHO, 82% of infected patients will have mild presentations, 15% will have severe manifestations, and only 3% will be critical. As mentioned before, older people, people with compromised immune systems, and people with pre-existing medical conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease, are more prone to fall severely ill with the virus. Around 2% of people infected with the disease have died.
In short, there will be people who will die. But a lot who will not. This is both good and bad news, whichever way you look at it.
5. What happens when one worker in the company tests positive of COVID-19 via rapid test?
This is our Company Policy:
- The staff with a positive rapid test will take a confirmatory COVID-19 RT-PCR test. It will be the company who will book the appointment but it is the staff who is responsible to go to the clinic themselves. If the person is at the office, we will bring him/her to clinic, complete with PPE.
- While waiting for the results, all staff who was exposed to the suspected COVID-19 patient are placed in home quarantine.
- The office will be disinfected and UV lighted to kill bacteria and germs. Work can resume in 24 hours if another cluster is available.
- If the swab test result turns out negative, then everyone comes back to work.
- For the staff who is tested positive, it will be the hospital and clinic who will immediately notify the confirmed case to the Municipal Health Officer (MHO) or City Health Officer (CHO) for verification and initial investigation. The MHO/CHO shall then report to the Regional Epidemiology Surveillance Unit (RESU) using the Event-Based Surveillance System (ESR) system of the Epidemiology Bureau (EB) of DOH. If needed, we will report to the barangays where the work location and the residence of the worker is located.
- Please be mindful on the health coverage an employee will get — There is the SSS Sickness Benefit, EC Coverage and Philhealth Coverage:
6. Are the days on home quarantine paid?
No, they are unpaid as per Labor Advisory No. 4, Series of 2020:
Anything that is given to the staff is gracia. So it’s better to be careful.
7. What does it mean when you do home quarantine?
For goodness sakes, home quarantine does NOT mean you should go out and chismis with your neighbors!
A Filipino worker I know rebonded her hair at a local salon while experiencing flu-like symptoms. Another worker I know celebrated her father’s birthday in the company of close relatives. This is how the Philippines confirmed cases go up to 70,000:
Home quarantine means being locked up in a room with NO CLOSE CONTACT with anybody. Food is provided outside the room. Here’s what the Houston Methodist recommends:
a. Separate yourself from the people and pets you share your home with
If possible, stay in a separate room and use a separate bathroom — especially if someone you live with is higher risk for severe illness.
If you’re living with someone who has COVID-19, make sure you know how to share a home with someone who’s sick — without getting sick yourself.
b. Wash your hands often
Practicing proper hand hygiene can help prevent the spread of the virus. Wash your hands after blowing your nose, sneezing or coughing. In addition, avoid touching your face.
c. Don’t share your stuff
Avoid sharing the following items with people or animals in your home:
- Dishes, drinking glasses and utensils
- Towels, including hand towels in the kitchen and bathroom
d. Disinfect commonly touched surfaces every day
Early evidence shows that the new coronavirus can live on surfaces for hours or even days in some cases.
At least once per day, be sure to clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces around your home, including:
- Bathroom fixtures
- Door knobs
To disinfect surfaces, you can use common household cleaner or a diluted bleach solution.
e. Monitor your symptoms
Twice a day, take your temperature to check for a fever. Also, take note if you’re beginning to cough or experiencing shortness of breath.
You may or may not experience COVID-19 symptoms (coughing, fever and shortness of breath) during your quarantine. If you do begin experiencing symptoms:
- Wear a cloth face mask when you’re around people or using common spaces in your home
- Cover your coughs and sneezes and immediately wash your hands afterward
- Contact your health care provider or use telemedicine to seek guidance from home
8. Are there any vaccines available for COVID-19?
Unfortunately, there is none. Hence, it is mostly our body’s immune system who will battle the virus. So it is just a battle of treating symptoms as they come through. Supportive care for infected persons is highly effective. Most of those infected have recovered with only supportive care.
There is news about this Chinese herbal medicine called Lianhua Qingwen, which is a Chinese herbal medicine. However, while widely used in China, the Philippine FDA has not yet approved the drug for the general public as of May 6:
However, a lot of people were saying that for early symptom stages, Lianhua offers relief. To use, people were saying that:
- You can only use this maximum 8 days. If the symptoms don’t subside, you have to go seek medical help.
- Zhong said that, according to the experiment, the traditional Chinese medicine can weakly inhibit the virus and repair cell injuries and inflammation caused by the virus. For patients showing mild symptoms, Lianhua Qingwen would be more effective.
- After taking the capsule, patients’ symptoms allegedly improve quickly, two days earlier than the control group. Second, CT scan result also shows that patients recover faster than the control group. Third, the capsule can shorten fever time.
- The dosage is 4 pills per time, 3x a day after breakfast, lunch and dinner. This cannot be consumed until there’s something in the stomach. So that’s 12 pills per day.
- Apparently, the side effect is LBM.
- There should be a positive effect after 3 days. You cannot exceed 8 days in taking the medicine. There’s 36 pills per box. So it’s good for 3 days only. 12 pcs per day.
9. What is my personal opinion on this COVID-19 pandemic, as of July 25, 2020?
COVID-19 is here especially in the Metro Manila. Regardless on what the rapid test say, everyone is a suspected COVID-19 positive patient already. If you’re not a carrier, chances are, a neighbor, friend or relative is, putting you at risk. There is no escaping COVID-19 now.
Fear is our worst enemy. It makes us mentally depressed, anxious and upset. Depression cannot heal COVID-19. It will not bring us back from the dead. Hence, the best way to handle COVID-19 is to assume everyone is positive, and take special care. Now is the chance to settle your debts, assume the worst, and hope for the best.
To be fair, the Philippines has a lower death rate versus other countries. Mahirap talagang mamatay ang Filipino. Malakas ang resistensya. However, loved ones are also at the risk of dying, so we will never know. If it hits you, it takes less than a week for the first symptoms to strike till death, so you will never know.
Do not go to rallies and please practice social distancing.
Now is NOT the time to protest in a group. Do so in social media. Give interviews. But please, stop with this: It is not just you who will be affected but your loved ones too. If you became a carrier as a result of such irresponsibility and one of your senior loved ones are killed, how can you ever forgive yourself?
Do not panic — If you become COVID-19 positive, self-isolate and do home quarantine for 14 days.
If you have serious symptoms, go and find professional medical help. Most hospitals are full — including PGH — so unless you require serious help, stay at home and stop infecting others. Asymptomatic or not, you should be responsible for others. And for goodness sakes, stop lying on your Health Interview Questionnaire form!!!
The economy is dying but if we do not curb now and declare ECQ or MECQ, more Filipinos will get infected. All of these people who are itching to go back to their provinces are potential carriers as well. This is not about being humane but actually thinking of the benefits of the rest of the Philippines. Just feed them and have them stay put. Otherwise, there will be more provincianos who will be infected.
I highly suggest doing one last lockdown. Get it over and done with.
Instead of paying for all the tests in Metro Manila, assume everyone is sick. Let everyone stay home, home quarantine and remove those with serious cases and put them in quarantine facilities. Every free test and PPE the government uses will be eventually be paid by the Filipino. There is no such thing as a free lunch.
It is better to lockdown the pandemic epicenter and just spend the money on relief goods and support of the citizens than to test everyone. We have passed the point of controlling the pandemic. It’s here and active. The best way is to stop it from spreading to the rest of the Philippines.
The more people infected, the fuller our healthcare facilities become. The more worrying it becomes to be a doctor or a nurse. Many hospitals are full. PGH has reached capacity. Let us not burden our doctors and nurse by being irresponsible.
Calm down. We stay safe, work and wait for the President’s call to shut down the city again. Yes, I’m all for saving the economy but let’s get this over and done with. The economy will survive, but it will not survive if the numbers keep on rising this way.
10. If there’s a lot of COVID-19 positive people running around, why is our business still open? What are we waiting for?
Our company is following the DOLE and DTI Health Guidelines for the Prevention of the Spread of COVID-19. None of our staff is a suspected COVID-19 positive worker. So far, despite the increasing number of COVID-19 positive cases, we has escaped this fate.
However, it will just be a matter of time — eventually, despite our best efforts, one of us will be positive and we will shut down.
That’s why, what we are doing is working until that time. Earn a living. Go to work to ensure that there is salary. So that when we shut down, we no longer have to depend on any government ayuda. We have at least one cut off to feed our families. So compared to others, we will have more — not enough of course, but enough to feed the family.
While we can work, we work. And then when we are asked to rest, we rest.
Nobody wants a holdout.
People get what they earn. We work until we are asked to stop to work, which will happen. Show that we work and when the time comes to rest, believe na hindi naman kayo papabayaan ng company. If pabaya kayo ngayon, management will remember. If hindi kayo pabaya, bakit naman kayo papabayaan?
Let’s do our part and let God take care of the rest. So when the time the lockdown comes, we rest. And we spend our time again with our families. We did what we could, and bahala na si God.
Choose to stay calm. Choose not to let fear rule our steps. And for goodness sakes, wear your mask, wash your hands and practice social distancing.