POSTSCRIPT / January 13, 2022 / Thursday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

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 preemptivelove.org 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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News RoundUp

Philippine STARComelec targets January 17 start of printing ballots
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MANILA — The Commission on Elections is targeting to start the printing of ballots for the May 9 national and local elections on Monday. Today, the poll body intends to complete the final ballot faces for printing, which bear the final list of candidates for national positions. (Jan 15)
Philippine STARPhilippines breaks record COVID-19 cases again with 39,004 new infections
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MANILA - The Philippines logged 39,004 new coronavirus infections on Saturday, topping the previous record of 37,207 cases set just a day before. The new infections bring the country’s total caseload to 3,168,379. Of this, 280,813 are currently sick. (Jan 15)
Philippine STARDOH sees community transmission of Omicron in Metro Manila
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MANILA - The Department of Health said Saturday that there is community transmission of the highly infectious Omicron variant in Metro Manila, the epicenter of the latest surge in infections in the country that is reaching unprecedented highs. (Jan 15)
Philippine STARGovernment simplifies processes to ramp up vaccination
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MANILA — Acting presidential spokesman Karlo Nograles said those who want to get vaccinated do not need to register before going to inoculation sites and to secure a medical clearance unless they are suffering from certain illnesses. (Jan 15)
Philippine STARGov’t allows quarantine hotels to function as isolation facilities
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MANILA — Acting presidential spokesperson and task force co-chair Karlo Nograles announced Friday that they have approved the recommendation of the Department of Tourism for quarantine hotels to also function as isolation sites. (Jan 15)
Philippine STARMarcos camp disputes Carpio claim on ill-gotten wealth
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MANILA — The camp of presidential aspirant Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has dismissed as speculation the claim of retired Supreme Court justice Antonio Carpio that over P300 billion in ill-gotten wealth and unpaid taxes may not be recovered if he wins the presidential election in May. (Jan 15)
Philippine STARPhilippines agrees to buy India anti-ship missile system
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MANILA — The Philippines has agreed to buy an anti-ship missile system from India, the defense minister said Friday, shoring up its security in the face of growing Chinese aggression in the South China Sea. (Jan 15)
Philippine STARPalace to rely on house-to-house vaccination of elderly, people with comorbidities
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MANILA - The government is counting on house-to-house campaigns to vaccinate senior citizens and other persons vulnerable to COVID-19 especially those who are living outside the National Capital Region Plus. (Jan 15)
Philippine STARRobredo prefers beating Marcos in polls instead of disqualification
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MANILA — If Vice President Leni Robredo had her way, she would rather beat her political rival, former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., in the upcoming elections instead of him being disqualified as a presidential candidate in the May polls. (Jan 15)
Philippine STARSchools in Metro Manila stop classes as Omicron cases surge
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MANILA — Schools in the Metro Manila were ordered Friday to suspend online classes for a week, as an Omicron-driven record surge in infections ravages the metropolis of 13 million. COVID-19 is ripping through the national capital region and surrounding provinces. (Jan 15)
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