Doctors advise Pinoys to wear masks following reported rise of coughs, colds cases

November 13, 2023 - 6:45 PM
Bus commuting, Manila
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)

Two doctors advised the public to continue wearing masks outdoors if testing for COVID-19 is not possible.

This came after reporting an increase in patients who have symptoms or have tested positive for the highly-communicable disease.

Jonathan E. Sy took to his X account to share that he has seen patients with coughs and colds in the past weeks.

Sy then noted that such a situation would “ideally” call for these patients to get swabbed for COVID-19.

“I’ve been seeing a lot of patients coming in for coughs and colds these last couple of weeks. Ideally, we should be testing patients for COVID-19, even just the symptomatic ones with a rapid antigen saliva test,” the physician said.

“Can’t do the same for the flu. Even if we have those rapid tests here now, there would be too many false negatives. Anyway, we have meds for symptom relief. It’s the least we can do,” he added.

In his thread, Sy also offered a list of over-the-counter medications to treat coughs and colds.

Another doctor with the X handle @docbenjisays said that he encountered school children who tested positive for the deadly virus.

He also reminded the public to wear face masks if they are experiencing symptoms.

“Uyyyy may mga positive na naman ako sa COVID na school children. DOH [Department of Health] data is highly inaccurate because a lot don’t do PCR anymore. Many don’t want to do RAT [rapid antigen test] because a kit is a day’s wage for many. When you have symptoms – we’re a MASK!” the doctor posted.

The RT-PCR testing is considered the “golden” standard to determine if patients have contracted COVID-19.

To recall, COVID-19, which quickly spread and caused travel restrictions across countries in 2020, shares similar symptoms as influenza.

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These include “fever, cough, and fatigue,” according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

“Moderate cases may have difficulty breathing or mild pneumonia. While severe cases may have severe pneumonia, other organ failure and possible death.  Anyone experiencing difficulty breathing should seek immediate medical attention,” it said.

The Department of Health (DOH) on November 4 recorded over 150,000 cases of influenza-like illness (ILI) nationwide from January 1 to October 14.

This was 46% higher than the 108,065 cases logged in the same period last year.

Regions with the highest surge as compared to last year are the Zamboanga Peninsula, the Central Visayas region and the National Capital Region.

DOH has yet issued any advisory about new COVID outbreaks in the country.

The national government, meanwhile, has removed all COVID protocols in the Philippines, including the face mask policy, since July by virtue of Proclamation 29.

Last May, WHO declared the end of the COVID-19 pandemic or lifted its status as a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) after three years.

“The WHO Director-General concurs with the advice offered by the Committee regarding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. He determines that COVID-19 is now an established and ongoing health issue which no longer constitutes a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC),” the organization said back then.