COVID - 19 in the Philippines

COVID - 19 in the Philippines

Rey B. Oronan, DVM, MS
College of Veterinary Medicine
University of Philippines Los Baños Laguna,

1.A brief situation of the Covid-19 infection in your country.

As of April 14, 2020, The Philippines has a total of 4932 confirmed COVID-19 cases with 315 deaths and 242 recoveries. The first three COVID-19 patients who were confirmed on January 30 are Chinese nationals who went to the country as tourists. The first Filipino who was confirmed positive on March 5 and had a recent travel to Japan. From then, the number of cases kept on rising with the highest number of positive cases (538) on March 31, 2020.

2.What are the measures taken by your government to control this virus infection

Initially in January, the Department of Health issued proper handwashing guidelines, coughing and sneezing etiquette, and has recommended social distancing (which was later renamed physical distancing) in order to prevent infection. Contact tracing to the positive cases was done to find possibly infected people and to quarantine them. By March 8, President Rodrigo R. Duterte, placed the entire Philippines under a State of Public Health Emergency. By March 16, the Island of Luzon was placed under Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ); other provinces also followed ECQ upon confirmation of more than 2 cases. During the ECQ, mass transportation was suspended with restriction of land, air, and sea travel. Government work has been suspended or work from home, if applicable, was arranged. Only those who provide security, healthcare and other essential work are required to go to work in skeletal work force. Strict home quarantine was also recommended with only one person per family allowed to go out to buy food or essential items. The ECQ has been extended until April 30 however, the government will reassess the local condition as the days go by.

3.What has been learned in your country with regard to his pandemic?

I have learned that the Philippines is not truly prepared for a pandemic. The healthcare system, as well as the planning for the ECQ was inadequate. During the process of ECQ where transportation has been suspended. The healthcare employees and the employees of private companies were massively affected; they cannot go to work. This has been rectified by providing free transportation to essential workers.

However, there are a lot of Filipinos who are on a no-work-no pay basis, or who are hand-to-mouth individuals (informal workers where they can only eat based on how much they can earn in the day); they cannot go out to work thus they do not have money to buy food. The national government ordered the local government to provide food for the community using their calamity fund but there are problems in the acquisition and distribution of supplies. While some communities received their share of relief supplies, other families or individuals were unable to receive theirs. Thus these people who have nothing to eat will often go out of their house violating the ECQ guidelines but we cannot blame them, or else they would perish. Aside from them, there are those people who deliberately withhold necessary medical information.. Several doctors and healthcare workers got sick and some died because their patients lied about their travel history during consultation.

4.How is this virus infection affecting your daily life and work? You might like to add in your other opinion.

As an educator, classes were suspended. Initially, we were ordered to use online platform to conduct classes but this was suspended during the ECQ since there are students who do not have access to internet and to give consideration to individuals with possible anxiety or psychological concerns. As a teacher, I worry for my students’ welfare since I have graduating students and thesis advisees; their

graduation can be postponed since they have not yet attained the minimum requirement for graduation.

For my non-graduating students, their skills attained now may not be enough for their higher level courses.

We have been in home quarantine for about a month now and we are always tuned in on the news pandemic updates. Our previous routine was changed. Although I am not used to staying at home all the time, this is also an opportunity to spend time with my family aside from performing some of the tasks that the university is requiring us.

References: quarantine-until-april-30