Businesses augment safety measures for clients versus NCOV


By Rose de la Cruz


It is heartening to note that many businesses—hotels, resorts, private conglomerates and the aviation sector—have been augmenting their safety measures for their customers against the 2019 new corona virus epidemic.


Such measures include sanitizing all facilities that are frequently touched by hands, putting in strategic areas of business alcohol and hand sanitizers and some, even masks and most importantly, providing their frontline entrance door guards with hand-held body temperature apparatuses to detect fevers from clients.


Of late, NCOV has invaded 25 countries apart from China where it originated, including the Philippines where one death was already reported.


As Dr. Joseph Adrian Buensalido, infectious disease specialist of Makati Medical Center and a fellow of the Philippine Society for Microbiology and Infectious Disease, told the Philippine Star, the Philippines is ready to tackle coronavirus, even if it was just declared a public health emergency by the World Health Organization.

Dr. Buensalido said the people must be cautious, but should not panic because Philippine doctors, the Philippine Society for Infectious Diseases and Microbiology (infection experts), the Department of Health, institutions/hospitals (both private and public) and other relevant government agencies, such as the Bureau of Quarantine and Bureau of Immigration, etc., are all working closely together to identify, isolate, and do contact tracing of actual infected patients. As of now (and new information arrives by the second), we’ve had only three confirmed cases. All three were Chinese and had been to Wuhan, China (the virus epicenter). No Filipinos have gotten it, based on our identification measures.

He said the two predecessors of coronavirus--- SARS in 2002 and MERS in 2012 came from bats. The bats transmitted the virus to certain animals (palm civets in SARS and camels in MERS). The close contact of the animals to humans allowed the virus to “jump” into humans, causing illness.


But no known (animal) cause has yet been found but data is pointing to an animal again because there has been a link to live animal markets as a result of the tracing. But Buensalido said he is sure that “we will know more in the next couple of days/weeks/months.”


Coronaviruses are a big family of viruses. This newest virus is called novel because it is a new type of coronavirus that has never been seen before.  Symptoms include fever, cough, colds and difficulty of breathing. It could be one of the symptoms, two of them or all of them. Not all 2019-nCoV-infected patients end up with a bad illness or outcome. Some are mild. Only 3 percent have it bad. Based on available data, we have seen that those who have it worse are the elderly and those with concomitant medical conditions. This means that most who get it will end up being okay. 


The chance of getting it is low. But doctors are recommending the following reasonable precautions:


1.        Wash your hands frequently and as needed, especially before touching your eyes, nose and mouth, before eating, and after using the toilet. 

2.       Masks be worn by those who have symptoms to protect others. Those who are in the vicinity of sick people may also wear masks for their protection. Some people elect to wear masks in crowded places. That is reasonable, given the uncertainty that people in the crowd are sick.

3.       Have a portable hand sanitizer helps so you can disinfect your hand or arm/elbow area, as needed.




NCOV can be transmitted through respiratory droplets or secretions from someone who is infected and sick. The virus may also stay in inanimate objects for a short time if the droplets/secretions from someone’s sneeze or cough land on them. And if you touch these objects, then you touch your nose/eyes/mouth, the virus may end up entering your body.


Once exposed, symptoms can manifest with 14 days that develop into fever, cough, colds. If you develop symptoms, you might have gotten nCoV, but the other possibility is that it’s not nCoV, just some other more common or more usual infection. If you do not develop symptoms, then you didn’t get infected with nCoV.


Those exposed are usually: those who came from China (including Macau and Hong Kong); had close contact with a person confirmed to have or probably had nCoV infection; visited or worked in a live animal market in China; worked in a hospital where nCoV infection was reported in patients, or if the patient is a healthcare worker who is working in a place where severe acute respiratory infections (that could be nCoV) were attended to.


He recommends masks only for those who are symptomatic, (such as fevers, cough, and colds or even sore throat). This way, you will protect others from your infections and to those working closely with the infected person or the disease, or who have the same symptoms. That is so that they can protect themselves from infection or contagious people.


It is reasonable for people who are in crowded places to wear masks, given the uncertainty that the people around them may be contagious. If you decide to wear one, a single mask is enough. You don’t need to double up on the masks, he said.


But even wearing a mask with hand washing upon discarding the mask may contaminate the hands with whatever viruses or bacteria are on the surface of the mask.  If you touch your eyes, nose or mouth, you can still contaminate yourself and facilitate the entry of virus and bacteria into your body.


But like other coronaviruses it has an end. The SARS outbreak ended and we had peace for a long while. In 2012, the MERS outbreak came into being, but it has died down. It’s going to be the same for this outbreak. We are hoping that with everyone working together, we can stop the chain earlier than later.


The tests for confirming 2019-nCoV are available in RITM (Research Institute for Tropical Medicine) and lastly, government-relevant institutions, and private hospitals and institutions, are all working together in the same way as their counterparts are in other countries.


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Thursday, 20 February 2020
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