Filipinos should not panic with the spike in COVID-19 cases due to infections from the Omicron coronavirus variant, particularly in Metro Manila, Partido Reporma senatorial bet and public health advocate Dr. Minguita Padilla said Thursday.
Instead, Dr. Padilla said everyone should be responsible with their actions amid the pandemic and continue to seek out vaccination, which the government should ramp up to ease peoples’ fears, the doctor said in an interview on SMNI News.
“Huwag tayong mag-panic, mag-ingat tayo, magpabakuna tayo, maging responsable tayo pero huwag tayong mag-panic (Let’s not panic, let’s be careful, let’s get vaccinated, let’s be responsible, but let’s not panic),” Dr. Padilla said.
This is her message amid reports that certain medicines like paracetamol and over-the-counter cough and cold medicines were going out of stock in the markets and the possibility that hospitals might be overwhelmed due to the influx of patients that might require serious medical attention because of COVID-19.
Dr. Padilla said Filipinos should respect and follow the government’s mandate for the unvaccinated to not leave their homes or go out if not necessary, now that Metro Manila and its neighboring provinces have reverted to COVID Alert Level 3.
She also agreed with the decision of Metro Manila’s mayors to disallow the unvaccinated from going out of their homes as they are most prone to the more virulent Omicron variant.
The Partido Reporma senatorial bet explained two reasons why the government is not allowing the unvaxxed from leaving their homes.
“Alam mo, ang dalawang dahilan kung bakit ayaw talaga palabasin ‘yung mga hindi nabakunahan—at I agree with that—is dalawa ang dahilan: isa, it’s a danger to them. May peligro or pwedeng may mangyaring masama sa kanila. At kung sila maimpeksyon ng COVID, lalo na kung may mga iba silang sakit, mas malala ang impeksyon sa kanila kaysa sa nabakunahan. So, that’s one, masama sa kanila.”
[You know, there are two reasons why the government doesn’t want those without the vaccine to go out – and I agree with that. One, it’s a danger to them. There’s a danger or something could happen to them. And if they are infected with COVID, especially if they are sick with something else, their infection will be worse than those who had been vaccinated.]
“Second, ito ay dangerous sa lipunan—ito ‘yung importante—for the society. Bakit? Kasi ang mga hindi nabakunahan, kung makapasok ang COVID sa kanila, ito ang mas may chance na magkaroon ng tinatawag na mutation,” Dr. Padilla said.
[Second, this is dangerous to society–and this is important–for the society. Why? Because the unvaccinated, if COVID enters them, gives (the virus) the chance to have what we call a mutation.]
The doctor said that based on studies, the bodies of the unvaxxed serve as virtual ‘petri dishes’ for the coronavirus, where it can move freely and strengthen its genotype or genetic structure as an organism, and thus fight off the effects of vaccines.
Dr. Padilla advised that it is better to stay at home in case a person feels the symptoms of COVID-19, especially if they are mild, even if the person hasn’t taken a diagnostic test yet to confirm the disease.
But the Partido Reporma candidate said it would help if the government made it a policy to distribute COVID-19 self-testing kits as other countries like the United States, United Kingdom and Singapore are doing, as well as certain villages in Metro Manila.
“Gawing mas available ’yung mga antigen testing na mga reputable, na accredited para hindi na kailangang maghanap ng testing center ‘yung mga tao, madali lang sa bahay. Ginagawa ng barangay namin ‘yon e. So, tinuruan sila. Sila mismo nagte-test (sa mga sarili nila), so hindi nagpa-panic ang tao. So, [kung] mag-positive ka (at hindi naman malala), sa bahay ka na lang,” she said.
[Make available the antigen testing (kits) that are reputable, that are accredited, so people don’t need to look for testing centers, they could do it at home. Our barangay does it. They were taught, they were testing themselves, so people are not panicking. So, when you test positive (and the illness is not severe), you can stay at home.]
Dr. Padilla warned that even if most Filipinos with COVID-19 were mild or asymptomatic, if too many people got sick with the coronavirus, hospitals could again be overwhelmed – a scenario that should be avoided to keep the country’s healthcare system from collapsing.
She urged everyone to be discerning with the information they read about the Omicron variant, to listen to expert advice, and to follow all health protocols, to keep from adding to the COVID-19 patients and to prevent hospitals from overflowing, which is also harmful to already-overworked healthcare workers.
“All the frontliners of the world are tired. Lahat ay pagod pero trabaho – bokasyon ‘yun [na] hindi pwedeng talikuran. So, tulungan na lang ninyo ang mga doctor at nurse ninyo para hindi mag-give up, ‘di ba? Just be responsible and follow what we’re telling you,” Dr. Padilla pleaded.
[All the frontliners of the world are tired. They’re all tired, but this is a job – a vocation they cannot turn their backs on. So, please help your doctors and nurses not to give up, right? Just be responsible and follow what we’re telling you.