‘May mga positive na naman’: Medical community urges masking as COVID-19 cases rise

May 21, 2024 - 1:46 PM
Face masks in public
Commuters don face masks on while waiting for available public transport along Taft Avenue in Manila on Monday night, Sept. 12, 2022 as President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. approves an executive order allowing the voluntary wearing of face masks in outdoor settings as recommended by the IATF. (The STAR/Miguel de Guzman)

Some online Filipinos, including those from the medical community, warned the public about the recent rise in COVID-19 cases.

Physician Benjamin Co, an infectious disease expert who has been giving daily COVID-19 updates especially in the early days of the pandemic, has been posting about the recent increase in cases.

On May 17, he reminded his followers to wear face masks when they are in “an enclosed crowded area or in a healthcare facility,” adding that he had five COVID-19 cases that day.

A day later, Co shared another observation.

“Dami kong positive sa [Covid] lately. People — if you have respiratory symptoms and DON’T want to test, for heaven’s sake, please wear a MASK!! Is that too much to ask? If you have fever — huwag na muna kayong lumabas!” he posted on May 18.

News about Singapore’s rise in COVID-19 cases also caught his attention.

“It’s not only them. We, too, are seeing rises in cases,” Co said, sharing an article.

The city-state has been seeing a rise in its COVID-19 cases which reports say is attributed to the COVID-19 subvariants called “FLiRT,” drawing from the letters in the names of their mutations.

Meanwhile, Co shared some reminders to the public following his observations about the COVID-19 situation in the country.

He told them to wear masks if they have COVID-19 symptoms, stay at home when they have a fever, get tested if they were exposed to someone who tested positive for the virus and currently have symptoms of their own and drink lots of fluids.

Another physician also reminded her followers to wear masks because of people testing “positive” for the virus.

“May mga positive na naman. Mag-mask tayo,” online user @DocHappy95 wrote.

In the replies thread of her post, she said that two of her friends tested positive for COVID-19.

“Buti na lang marunong makinig ang friend ko. May sipon daw at makati ang lalamunan. Sabi ko mag-test. Ayun, positive nga,” the physician said in another post.

“Maging responsible po tayo. Mag-test ‘pag may symptoms at mag-mask,” she added.

Another X user who identifies as a nurse also shared the following: “Kaka-announce pa lang na tumataas na naman ang COVID cases, nagka-COVID patient agad sa ER.”

ER is short for “emergency room.”

Another online user from the medical community also shared her experience.

“Just yesterday, we admitted [two] pediatric COVID-positive patients. [One] adult COVID patient was coded in the ER as well. Tumataas na naman,” X user @le_docteur2023 wrote.

“Sign talaga na dumadami COVID ‘pag may handful kang kilala na meron,” a different online user posted with a brokenhearted emoticon.

Edson Guido, former data analytics head of ABS-CBN News who regularly posted about COVID-19 figures before, also affirmed the observations.

“Are COVID-19 cases in PH increasing? Yes, according to DOH, although the rise is ‘small and lower than previously observed increases,'” he said, quoting the health department.

“From May 7 to 13, 877 new cases were reported. However, this excludes antigen. The DOH continues to remind people to wear face masks. Ingat!” Guido added.

The Department of Health (DOH) on Tuesday said that there was a slight increase in COVID-19 cases but stressed that all regions remain at low risk for transmission.

It said that while an uptick in cases was observed, it was smaller than previous increases, and travel restrictions are not warranted.

The DOH reported 877 new COVID infections from May 7 to 13, an average of 125 cases logged per day.

Five COVID deaths were also recorded, all of which happened from April 30 to May 13.

Data from the department showed that hospital occupancy for COVID-19 patients remained low.

The DOH also said that it is monitoring new COVID-19 variants alongside global trends.

Three new variants are under monitoring by the World Health Organization: JN.1.18, KP.2, and KP.3— all descendants of the variant of interest JN.1.

The variant JN.1 has caught the attention of experts before, with some wondering if it will be declared the next variant of concern alongside the Delta and the Omicron variants.

“JN.1 has inherited more than 30 mutations in its spike protein. It also acquired a new mutation, L455S, which further decreases the ability of antibodies (one part of the immune system’s protective response) to bind to the virus and prevent infection,” an article from The Conversation said last January.

“The second involves changes to the way JN.1 enters and replicates in our cells. Without delving in to the molecular details, recent high-profile lab-based research from the United States and Europe observed BA.2.86 to enter cells from the lung in a similar way to pre-omicron variants like delta. However, in contrast, preliminary work by Australia’s Kirby Institute using different techniques finds replication characteristics that are aligned better with omicron lineages,” it added.

Experts said that the best way to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 is masking, practicing cough and sneezing etiquette, frequent handwashing for at least 20 seconds and keeping spaces well-ventilated.