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What To Do In Case Of COVID-19 Pandemic, According To An Infectious Disease Specialist

Here's sound advice from a pro, about what to do in case of a full-blown pandemic, and the best ways to keep yourself healthy amidst the threat

These days, we try to update ourselves with the latest on COVID-19 news, without wanting to feel panic or fear. Information and knowledge, after all, are key to surviving a time when disease literally lurks in our surroundings. We never know when and where virus can strike, so arming ourselves with the right kind of information is one of our best defenses in uncertain times.


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In the past week, we've been bombarded with a ton of scary news surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak, with countries such as South Korea, Italy, and Iran raking in new confirmed cases by the hundreds, making them the countries with the most number of Coronavirus cases apart from Mainland China. News of possible reinfection, as well as more travel plans trouble surrounds us, and as if in a movie, the fear of possible pandemic looms in the air.


The World Health Organization has warned the globe to be ready in case this outbreak heads into that direction, and while this alarms us, we should definitely not panic. No hoarding of masks or groceries, but more research and better hygiene practices are key. We spoke to Dr. Cybele Lara R. Abad, Infectious Disease Specialist and Chair of Infection Control at The Medical City, and asked for her expert advise on how to go about these trying times. Read on and get enlightened!


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Metro.Style: We are amidst frightening times, with multiple countries locking down their cities and travel bans being implemented globally. As a professional physician, what are your top pieces of advice in case of a probable global pandemic?

Dr. Abad:  The best thing to do is to keep calm and not panic. Keeping educated and up to date by reading or watching from official websites such as the Department of Health or the centers for disease control is also warranted. Although an emerging infection such as COVID-19 is quite frightening, we also have to trust that scientists and healthcare workers are doing all they can to curb the tide of this disease.



Metro.Style: Is the Philippine medical system equipped to handle such a situation?

Dr. Abad: The Philippine medical system is doing all it can to prepare for a possible surge in cases, or local transmission of COVID-19. The DOH and the Philippine Society of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (PSMID), and other stakeholders have all come together to plan and prepare for COVID-19.


Metro.Style: As regular citizens, what are the best ways to deal with such a situation if ever?

Dr. Abad:  Apart from keeping calm, the best ways to deal with this epidemic are to follow instructions of the Department of Health. Remember, SARS-CoV2 is a virus, and like any other virus, small things make a big difference. These include proper hand hygiene, cough etiquette, use of surgical masks when symptomatic, and seeking healthcare when feeling ill.


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Metro.Style: Right now that cases are contained in the Philippines, what is your professional advice for people who are worried about the possibilities in the coming weeks/months?

Dr. Abad: My advice is to keep updated. The situation is very fluid and changes everyday. We should be prepared for the possibility that the Philippines will also see more cases of COVID-19. But worry and panic will not help in the preparation.


Metro.Style: Apart from COVID-19, the common flu is still one of the biggest threats out there. For you, what is the best way to combat this virus? Are there different types of flu shots to take? When is the best time to take a flu shot?

Dr. Abad:  That is a great question—it also puts things into perspective. All the attention has been drawn to COVID-19 when the flu is out there. Lets not forget that influenza or the flu continues to kill millions of people each year, which is certainly much more than that of COVID-19.


Apart from the small things I mentioned earlier, another way to combat the flu is through vaccination. I know that vaccination has gotten a bad reputation through social media, but the science behind it is sold—it works! It is not 100% fool proof, but the level of protection one gets from it is better than nothing. The best time to get the shot is before the summer months. This year’s vaccine should be coming out soon—the best kind of shot would be the quadrivalent flu vaccine, which contains 4 strains of the flu.


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