DOH says still safe to visit hospitals if feeling unwell
MANILA, Philippines – Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said that despite the rise of novel coronavirus in the country, it is still safe for the public to visit hospitals if they need to see a doctor.
In a press briefing on Monday, March 9, Duque said that hospitals nationwide "have infection prevention and control practices in place."
“We would like to take this opportunity to reassure the public that our hospitals have infection prevention and control practices in place so there is no need to avoid going to these hospitals, especially if you feel unwell,” the Department of Health (DOH) chief said.
Duque advised those who have gone to places often visited by the 20 confirmed cases of COVID-19 – the disease caused by 2019-nCoV – not to panic. Rather, they should monitor themselves first for possible signs and symptoms of the virus.
“Let me clarify that all others who have visited places frequented by confirmed cases of COVID-19 are not required to seek medical consultation and subject themselves to COVID-19 laboratory testing. They are advised to self-monitor and if with symptoms, consult health centers or rural health units for appropriate management and monitoring,” Duque said.
President Rodrigo Duterte already declared a state of public health emergency which paves the way for a more efficient government response to contain the spread of 2019-nCoV.
The DOH, however, has been drawing flak for being too slow to disclose information about patients who tested positive for COVID-19, including the places they frequented and the location of the hospitals they were admitted to.
Duque announced on Monday that the DOH will now be publicizing hospital names “to combat unverified or fake news.”
Still, the DOH will only test patients already showing respiratory symptoms and who have either traveled to countries with recorded cases of the coronavirus or were exposed to those who already have COVID-19.
The Philippines now has a total of 20 confirmed cases after the DOH reported that 10 additional patients – all of whom are Filipinos – tested positive for 2019-nCoV. They are all admitted in various hospitals across Metro Manila. (READ: Makati, Pasig, Quezon City take precautions vs novel coronavirus)
Stay home if showing symptoms
World Health Organization (WHO) Country Representative to the Philippines Dr Rabindra Abeyasinghe also advised people already experiencing respiratory symptoms to stay home, even if they likely do not have COVID-19.
“We want to reiterate again for people having respiratory signs and symptoms to practice social distancing. Do not go to work, do not go to school, do not go to crowded places if you are having signs of respiratory infection. This may not be largely COVID-19 but it is rational to follow the advise in view of the fact that we are having localized transmission,” Abeyasinghe said during the press conference.
He said that doing so would help protect the elderly, especially those with pre-existing medical conditions.
"We recognize the vulnerability of the elderly population in this scenario and we encourage especially those groups to refrain from going to crowded places as much as possible and to ensure that they protect themselves. For this, we need a community-wide reponse. Family members need to support the eldelrly to protect them and minimize their risk of infection," Abeyasinghe said.
Worldwide, 2019-nCoV has infected more than 111,200 people and killed over 3,800, majority of whom are from Hubei, China, the epicenter of the outbreak. But more than half or over 62,300 people have already recovered from COVID-19 across the world. – Rappler.com