COVID-19 in the Philippines continues to pose a threat and the total number of cases has surpassed 140, according to CNN Philippines. The government has already taken action to prevent the spread of the disease and it has now been classified as a public health emergency. Here is a brief overview of what you need to know about COVID-19 in the Philippines.
Metro Manila placed in enhanced community quarantine
In an attempt to prevent a further outbreak of COVID-19, Metro Manila has been placed under enhanced community quarantine which goes into full effect on March 19. This is on top of a previous order that banned all domestic air, land and sea access to the National Capital Region from March 15 to April 14. Checkpoints have been setup around the city to enforce the quarantine which also covers the entire Luzon region.
Work and life impacted by COVID-19 in the Philippines
While Metro Manila has been placed under enhanced community quarantine, work and life go on although day-to-day activities have been greatly impacted. Public transport has been suspended while only essentially shops and stores are allowed to remain open during this time. People are only permitted to leave their household to secure essential necessities using a private vehicle. If you need to leave your house, use extreme caution when outside your residence. All large gatherings have been banned until the quarantine period ends.
In terms of business, the Philippine Stock Exchange is suspend trading until further notice as part of the enhanced community quarantine. Offices are beginning to close with many businesses moving to flexible work arrangements for employees. Schools have been suspended with some moving to online lessons in order to continue teaching on a limited basis.
Social distancing and taking care of yourself
If you do need to leave your house, it is important to use social distancing, or the practice of standing six to eight feet away from others. You should also avoid hand-to-hand or other contact as a measure to possibly prevent spreading of COVID-19. Tips to consider include sitting multiple tables away from customers in restaurants and allowing for buffer zones when standing in line at the grocery store.
Hand washing remains a vital way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the Philippines. You should use lots of soap and wash vigorously for at least 20 seconds. Click here for a guide to hand washing. Additionally, the use of hand sanitizer is recommended when you are out in public and may not be able to wash your hands frequently.
The World Health Organization found that 80 percent of COVID-19 patients only experience a mild illness and eventually recover. Another 14 percent experience severe illness while five percent are critically ill. The symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough and shortness of breath. However, you do not need to show these in order to be infected with the virus. COVID-19 shares common symptoms with the flu.
What to do if you are ill
If you feel mildly ill, you should stay at home and isolate yourself. It is advised you seek medical attention if you are displaying any symptoms of COVID-19 as soon as possible. Be sure to let the medical office know ahead of time that you are coming and that you may have the virus. Be sure to wear a mask when travelling and avoid contact with the public as much as possible when getting to the doctor’s office.
COVID-19 in the Philippines timeline
The first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the Philippines was announced on January 30 with two additional cases reported in February. The first three COVID-19 cases were Chinese nationals who traveled from Wuhan, China. A surge in reported cases started on March 5 forcing the government to take steps to reign in the outbreak.
What not to do
You should not hoard supplies such as water, toilet paper or food. Stock up on essentials, but don’t buy up a year’s worth of supplies as this means others may have to do without. Also, avoid large crowds and do not go places where social distancing cannot be practiced. Finally, postpone all non-essential travel until later on this year. This includes international and domestic journeys which could require you to self-quarantine for 14 days both upon arrival to your destination and on your return.