Is It Safe To Go To Hospitals And Gyms Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic?
With COVID-19 cases increasing rapidly by the day, how do we protect ourselves if we are to leave the house?
COVID-19 is now officially a pandemic, according to the World Health Organization. In the country, that has translated to 49 confirmed cases and 2 deaths, as of writing. With the number of cases increasing by the day, how should we be conducting our regular day-to-day activities?
Gyms and hospitals are some of the most widespread bacteria and virus hotbeds because of the nature of these establishments. While this is true, many gyms and hospitals across Metro Manila are doing their best to make their premises as safe as possible for people who still wish to continue with their lives, business as usual.
The Philippines reports first Filipino death due to #COVID19. This however is PH's second case of #coronavirus fatality, following the death of a visiting Chinese man from Wuhan on February 2. | via @kristinesabillo https://t.co/Eoq3xvlZKy pic.twitter.com/2OTfS7mrG9— ABS-CBN News (@ABSCBNNews) March 11, 2020
So, is it safe to go to the hospital?
Since March 9, the Department of Health has been disclosing hospitals that are housing COVID-19 patients to combat unverified news and information. Currently, there are patients admitted at Manila Doctors Hospital, Las Piñas General Hospital, Philippine Heart Center in Quezon City, Cardinal Santos Medical Center in San Juan City, The Medical City in Pasig, the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), Asian Hospital and Medical Center in Muntinlupa, Ace Dumaguete Doctors, and Northern Mindanao Medical Center.
But while it may be alarming to go to these hospitals for risk of contracting the virus, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III assured the public during a Malacañang briefing that going to hospitals is safe. “We would like to take this opportunity to reassure the public that our hospitals have infection prevention and controlled practices in place so there is no need to avoid going to these hospitals, especially if you feel unwell.”
Dr. Patrick Gonzalez, who is currently based at RITM, said that they are very strict when it comes to sanitary protocol. “At RITM, we keep the patients in what’s called a negative pressure room. Confirmed cases stay there. Think of it as a room with a built in vacuum that sucks in the air of that room, making sure that nothing goes out. The air itself is passed through a series of machines that decontaminate it appropriately before letting it out. While the patient is confined, they can only stay in the confines of that room.”
He adds that all health personnel who have to make contact with the patients wear proper personal protective equipment (PPE) including N95 masks, gowns, gloves, even shoe covers. “The equipment is also usually for one time use only and they are disposed of in appropriately labeled and secured containers.”
Is it safe to go to the gym?
It’s been said many times that one of the best practices to prevent yourself from contracting COVID-19 is by strengthening your immunity. Fitness coach and exercise scientist Ciara Juan from Surge Fitness, the first and biggest Filipino 24/7 gym franchise with 7 branches opening this year, says that “The best protection against diseases like COVID-19 is still personal health through proper hygiene, rest, nutrition, and exercise.”
Ciara cites these six major reasons how exercises boosts your immunity:
- The contracting skeletal muscle releases anti-inflammatory substances (myokines) that help regulate disease.
- Exercise stimulates your body’s built-in antioxidant system that fights inflammation.
- Exercise decreases fat cells that release inflammatory substances linked to disease.
- Exercise creates adaptations that strengthen your respiratory system against infection.
- Exercise helps you absorb vitamins and minerals in food.
- Exercise helps relieve anxiety brought by COVID-19—and a healthy mind means a healthy body.
But while all of these are true, many are still anxious because COVID-19 can be transferred through fomites or infectious droplets that can stay in surfaces for days. This is why gyms like Surge Fitness are adopting safety protocols to protect clients who still wish to visit their gyms.
According to a video on “Safe Practices At The Gym” created by Coach Ciara for Surge Fitness, they’re checking body temperature upon entering, they disinfect gym equipment five times a day, they provide sanitizing sprays and clean rugs throughout the gym for use, there are hand sanitizers stationed in common areas that should be used before and after exercising, and they clean the group class studio and exercise mats after every group class.
They are also requesting anyone who is experiencing flu-like symptoms to avoid going to the gym.
If you are still determined to sweat it out at the gym, may we remind you to put in an extra ounce of care by consciously protecting yourself and the other customers by doing these simple tips:
- Bring your own mat (if it's a yoga studio or a class that requires one).
- Bring your own boxing gloves and weight lifting gloves.
- Bring your own water to refrain from having to refill from communal dispensers.
- Throw away used tissue immediately.
- Wear a mask if you have to.
- Bring your own disinfectant spray for after you use equipment if the gym does not provide it.
- Do not use studio-provided towels. Bring your own.
- Bring your own toiletries and avoid using the ones provided in the restroom.
- When you get home, put your soiled clothes and towels immediately into the laundry bin and do not leave it in your gym bag to cultivate more bacteria.
Stay safe, everyone!