Filipino doctors and medical experts in the UAE reminded Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) based in the country of the top three things they need to regularly do so they can lessen their chances of contracting coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
In The Filipino Times’ live streaming on Facebook titled “TFT Usapang OFW: Alagang Pangkalusugan sa panahon ng COVID-19”, doctors reminded UAE-based OFWs to ensure that they regularly wash their hands, wear a face mask when going outside, and to always observe social distancing of at least two meters.
According to Dr. Aileen Villanueva General Practitioner in Mediclinic Abu Dhabi and The Filipino Times Awards 2018 Healthcare Professional of the Year, everyone should wear a face mask when going out—although the kind of mask you will wear depends on what kind of work you do.
For hospital workers, N95 is recommended because it filters 95 percent of particles from outside, according to Villanueva. However, in its absence, health workers can wear surgical masks—which is what they always don whenever they go to work. For normal people, however, she recommends either surgical masks or a cloth mask—provided one wears two to three layers and that they thoroughly wash it every day.
“Ang pagsuot ng mask sy importante pero hindi porket naka-mask ka ay protected ka na. dapat may pag-iingat pa din, ‘wag hawakan parati mask mo, at kung mahawakan mo man, mag-sanitize ka agad,” she said.
Villanueva also discourages wearing of face masks with exhalation valves, because it defeats the purpose of preventing or spreading COVID-19.
“‘Yong mask kasi na may valve in-e-exhale ng wearer ang droplets so delikado din sa kausap mo lalo kung may sakit ka or lalo kung ikaw ang positive. I discourage the use of face masks with valves, in fact it is already banned in some countries,” she added.
Dr. Arlene Adarne Dagondon, a General Practitioner at NMC Deira, meanwhile, stressed the importance of frequent hand washing for 20 seconds.
“Mas effective ang handwashing compared sa sanitizer provided maayos ang paghuhugas ng kamay like 20 seconds dapat. Sabi nila, you can sing ‘Happy Birthday’ [song] twice 20 seconds na daw ‘yon. Sa ganoong paraan, nasiguro mo na nalinis mo lahat at at nabanlawan mo ng maayos para matanggal mo ang germs,” she said.
Dagondon said that if handwashing is not possible, they can apply sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol content.
“Dapat 20 seconds din ang pagapply pero ang pinagkaiba lang [with handwashing], dapat pabayaan mo siyang matuyo at huwag punasan agad,” she said.
The doctors also emphasized the importance of social distancing, especially since COVID-19 is spread through droplets.
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“Importante siya kasi ang virus nakukuha droplets. Kapag ikaw ay bumahing o umubo, kapag less than two meters maaari mo itong mapasa sa iba, and vice versa. So dapat minimum two meters ang layo,” Dagondon said.
Villanueva also noted that two meters is the minimum because the droplets of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, are heavy—meaning, they easily drop on the surfaces within two meters or less.
“According to studies, COVID-19 is composed or large particles, so mabigat siya kaya heavy particles ang nilalabas nito through cough and sneeze. Madali siyang babagsak at hindi siya nakakadating ng malayo. Kaya ingat din tayo sa surfaces kasi madali siyang kumapit dito dahil nga mabigat siya,” she said.
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