POSTSCRIPT / January 13, 2022 / Thursday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Develop at-home regimen vs COVID

In his last weekly report to the nation, President Duterte dwelled on the demanding requirements of combatting the COVID-19 pandemic, its unpredictable surges, and the inadequacy of resources needed to tame it.

The COVID rampage that has killed at least 52,700 Filipinos calls for rallying the private and public sectors, including partisans girding for the May 9 national elections – something that the tough-talking Duterte whose term ends on June 30 may find challenging.

The President described the difficulty of upgrading the capacity of hospitals to treat the increasing number of COVID patients competing for their limited facilities, supplies and health personnel.

There is obviously a need to think outside the box — of hospitals, health clinics and the like.

Ironically, these are now among the places where one is likely to pick up the dreaded virus and its variants. There’s need to reduce visits to these facilities at this time, but how?

Also, how do we convince people to heed the admonition to stay home if there’s an urgent need to find a cure for COVID elsewhere?

The highly transmissible Omicron variant seems to be everywhere, latching on to anyone who comes near it, even if fully vaccinated. The new carrier walks around, interacts with people, then goes home, not showing symptoms of infection!

Considering that most dwellings are not designed for isolating the sick, we suggest that the Department of Health link up with related agencies and private groups in developing a simplified regimen for treating mild COVID cases in isolation or under home quarantine.

Quarantine at home cannot be done all the time, considering the bare simplicity of most dwellings where sometimes half-a-dozen persons are crammed in limited space and made to share food, tap water and electricity.

Possible innovation may involve rearranging common areas, imaginative improvisation, and the adoption of basic hygienic procedures to minimize infection if anyone inadvertently brings in the virus.

The government could ask experts to design modular models for flexibility. Officials and politicians who have hidden wealth (or intelligence funds) that they may not want to explain later can help finance the redesigning of dwellings for home care/treatment of infected persons.

The adaptation may not always prevent the virus’ overrunning the home, but it may help reduce the need for taking to the hospital those with mild symptoms. Hospitals can then focus more on treating serious cases.

Some home remedies or native treatments of COVID-like conditions have been published by doctors and medical groups, as well as private concerns. The government can review and improve on them, then produce a simplified illustrated presentation for home use.

These include the taking of generic medicines and supplements for addressing symptoms of the disease, using vapor inhalation, eating selected fruits and vegetables, among other measures.

These traditional home measures may not work for everybody, especially in emergencies and in congested and unhygienic places, but they could be of help in a number of situations.

• Love helps heal the sick

Everybody has heard of social distancing especially with a top health official going around with a meterstick to check distances between persons. What about shelter-in-place? And what’s the difference between isolation and quarantine?

To see how others see the difference, if any, we went to the website of and found these notes with thoughtful counsel:

Social distancing is where people are asked to limit the size of groups that gather. In the COVID-19 pandemic, people are encouraged to keep at least six feet of space between each other.

But social distancing doesn’t have to disconnect us. You still have opportunities to be a helper for those in quarantine or isolation even while you limit your visits to stores and businesses.

You might be able to bring groceries and pick up prescriptions for those who cannot leave their homes. You can also choose to love by encouraging friends and family to appropriately observe social distancing.

Quarantine is for people who have been exposed to the sickness and have to be restricted in their ability to interact with others or go out in public. People under quarantine are told to stay home and avoid interacting with anyone outside their immediate household.

Some people might choose to self-quarantine to protect themselves or their family members, particularly if they are more at risk.

If you’re in quarantine, you can still write encouraging cards or letters and check in with others by phone or video chat. You could use your creativity and unique skills to create free videos for others.

Isolation is similar to quarantine, but it’s for those who have tested positive for the illness. They are not allowed to leave home or interact with others (except caregivers) to limit exposure. While quarantined family members can spend time together, people who are sick have to limit interactions.

In isolation, the most loving thing you can do is take care of yourself – the world is better with you in it, healthy and whole. If you’re in isolation but your symptoms are manageable, you may share your experience via social media, encouraging others to stay safe and be “ingat”.

Those who are sick can love others by making sure they follow instructions for social distancing and quarantine, to slow the spread of the virus.

Shelter-in-place (or “stay home” to Filipinos) is an emergency response ordered by government to protect citizens. It mandates people to stay home except for essential travel (such as picking up food or groceries, attending doctor appointments, or picking up prescriptions).

Those allowed to step out briefly should show to enforcers proof of their vaccination and the urgency of their leaving the house. Still, one who is allowed outside must observe the usual protocol for safe distancing and the wearing of face masks.

Love is an essential function. In every scenario, whether social distancing or in isolation, we can practice peacemaking and love by staying open to the experiences and perspectives of those around us, and by checking in on friends and family members.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of January 13, 2022)

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