‘DIY’ video vs COVID-19

COMMONSENSE - Marichu A. Villanueva (The Philippine Star) - April 16, 2021 - 12:00am

A group of volunteer-doctors came out with a do-it-yourself (DIY) video that provides a “don’t panic” medical advisory to people who might be experiencing mild to moderate symptoms of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infection. The volunteer doctors are alumni members of the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Medicine and the state-run Philippine General Hospital (PGH).

They are also involved in manning the PGH tele-consultation triage center called as Bayanihan National Operations Center (BNOC) that offers “free” tele-medicine consultations, with 186 doctor-volunteers ready to respond to calls from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. One of them, Dr. Minguita Padilla, proudly announced them last Wednesday in our Zoom Webinar of Kapihan sa Manila Bay.

According to Dr. Padilla, people who feel COVID-like symptoms can call up 155-200 for tele-consult with PGH-BNOC. Doctors are on the other end of the telephone to respond to their questions and concerns. Calling up the PGH Bayanihan free tele-consult, she cited, could get one’s condition assessed immediately to determine if hospital care is required or not.

Dr. Padilla is the co-convenor of former DOH Secretary Dr. Esperanza Cabral in the Doctors for Truth and Public Welfare advocating for the government to act with “more sense of urgency and transparency” and speed up anti-COVID vaccination. It also calls for the adoption of “more forward-looking” measures than reacting belatedly, Dr. Cabral noted, after the latest resurgence of COVID-19 cases erupted in Metro Manila and nearby provinces.

The two advocacy doctors joined us in our weekly Kapihan sa Manila Bay breakfast news forum with Dr. Bernadett Velasco, the Operations Head of the One-Hospital Command under the Department of Health (DOH). Health Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega leads the One Hospital Command under the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID).

Dr. Padilla noted that the prevailing problem of government and private hospitals being overwhelmed with COVID patients stems largely to the lack of public information that fans public panic. Not all COVID patients, in fact, require hospitalization, Dr. Padilla pointed out. Citing the daily DOH monitoring, most COVID cases are mild and moderate cases that could just apply “DIY healing” methods, she added.

“First of all do not worry because 98 percent of COVID cases are mild and asymptomatic,” Padilla assuaged the public. She highly recommended the public to watch the “calming and very informative” DIY video.

Unfortunately, the DIY video could only be viewed currently on social media.

For starters, the DIY video enumerates mild and moderate symptoms that include losing their sense of taste and smell, sore throat, fever, cough, joint pains, headache, eye redness and diarrhea. The video itemizes “DIY healing” measures to fight the infection: self-isolation away from other members of the household by staying in own room – preferably with own toilet and bath; wearing a face mask even while at home; taking a lot of rest; do deep breathing exercises; drink as much water to hydrate; take paracetamol for fever; eat nutritious food to strengthen immunity; and sleeping on one’s side to ease breathing.

The two-and-half minutes of the “DIY-healing” video clearly explains in simple language how COVID infected patients could determine at what stage they need to go a hospital. Learning these “DIY healing” will help us avoid the risk of going to a hospital and end up waiting at a long line to get a bed.

The DIY video tells us also the warning signs for mild symptoms could progress into severe form. A COVID-infected person will need medical attention at the hospital once he or she suffers low oxygen level; having difficulties in breathing; starts to experience chest pains; recurring fever; and, disorientation. Those with hypertension, diabetes and obesity and other serious comorbidity conditions should seek medical consultation even if their COVID is mild.

This is rather easy than wait for several hours, if not days, at the emergency rooms or corridor of hospitals. The worse situation is ending at makeshift tents at the parking lots or other open spaces of hospitals. The most scary scene is that of a man, reportedly sick of COVID, who stayed inside a car with intravenous fluids attached to him.

In our conversations at the Kapihan sa Manila Bay, Dr. Velasco admitted that the resurgence of COVID-19 cases, starting late February to March, have overwhelmed them. From a daily average of less than a hundred, she disclosed, suddenly a surge at around 400 calls a day got clogged up the telephone lines of the One Hospital Command. This led to public complaints of un-answered phone calls.

“So even the call-takers, the coordinators manning the command, not only the hospitals, were surprised,” Velasco quipped. Dismayed, Dr. Cabral retorted this should not “surprise” them if only the government, especially the IATF adopted more “forward-looking” measures in anticipation of worst case scenarios while the pandemic is still raging here.

While the present system of the One Hospital Command Center “is not perfect,” Dr. Velasco reassured the public, they are improving its capacity such as adding the DOH 1-555 hotline for patients needing urgent hospital care for COVID-19-related illnesses. To decongest and address the full capacity problem in hospitals, she explained, they are now coordinating with both private and government-run hospitals to transfer the mild and moderate COVID cases to isolation and quarantine facilities while recovering patients are moved to “step-down” medical facilities.

For the meantime, all our doctor-guests strongly advised the public to get inoculated against COVID-19 once vaccines become available. Dr. Padilla got her two doses of Sinovac already while Dr. Cabral had her first dose of AstraZeneca.

With the global vaccine supply still uncertain, we cannot afford to be choosy of vaccine brands, be it China-made or made in Europe or in the United States. But for now, do try to view the “DIY healing” video.

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