Shopping for COVID-19 essentials 1

Shopping for COVID-19 essentials

Aneth Ng-Lim, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 12 2021 03:57 PM | Updated as of Apr 12 2021 08:52 PM

Just last week, I found myself seriously looking into getting an oxygen tank for our home. Never mind that I do not know how to use one, nor even understand what I am shopping for, but having heard so many are buying as a precaution, I decided we should have one too.

Forgive my paranoia but with nearly all hospitals full to capacity of handling COVID-19 patients, I considered making sure we had all the essentials, just in case. With verified stories of families driving around to as many as 6 hospitals and all turning them away, patients waiting in corridors or in emergency room chairs until they can get a room, can you blame me for my momentary lapse of judgement?

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Thankfully, I came to my mind when I realized that the price of a good oxygen tank comes to about 5 figures. That plus tuning in to a timely talk from the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) over the weekend.

Shopping for COVID-19 essentials 2
Dr. Anna Ong-Lim. Handout

Dr. Anna Ong-Lim, Infectious and Tropical Disease Division Chief from the Department of Pediatrics, of the PGH College of Medicine, had an audience of over 33,000 on FB live alone, not counting the full to capacity Zoom platform and all the shares since. The clamor for her talk on What to Do when COVID Hits Home is proof that Filipinos are hungry for information we can trust to cope with the pandemic.

Her talk led me to revise my views of what are essentials in this time, as we continue to keep ourselves safe from the highly contagious virus. Sharing the list she covered in her talk, and her views on whether they are essentials or not.

#1 Face masks are here to stay.

Whether you are keeping safe or caring for a COVID-19 patient in your home, face masks are essential. One thing we can be grateful for is that face masks are now readily available and prices have stabilized. I recall paying as much as P1000 for a box of 50 last year. Today, I found sellers offering them for P70 a box.

#2 Face shields too, because why not?

Some want to be extra cautious and wear two face masks on top of each other. But a face shield on top of a face mask is a good choice to also protect your eyes, which has been reported and proven as another way for the virus to enter into your system. Dr. Ong recommends use of face masks and face shields when going out and when in contact with families and friends infected with COVID-19. Her advice: it’s better to practice the minimum health protocols and being vigilant instead of regular testing of household staff.

#3 Don’t fire up that steam vaporizer yet.

Have you seen lists of COVID-19 essentials that included vaporizer tablets? I have and when I checked with drugstores, they said these are used with steam vaporizers, and so I was looking to get one. But Dr. Ong-Lim confirmed that steaming has yet to be proven to help with prevention. Worse, it can cause damage to the lining of your mucosa which can predispose you to even more infections, so buyer please beware.

#4 Open up for throat sprays.

During the question and answer portion, one of the viewers asked about throat sprays and if they can help in prevention or in easing discomfort when afflicted with COVID-19. According to Dr. Ong-Lim, the use of throat sprays or solutions, including the often recommended Betadine, only has a small study of effectiveness but it can be used.

#5 Bleach the virus away.

One of the chores I dread is preparing the bleach solution when disinfecting groceries and surfaces to prevent virus spread. So I would prepare enough for a few days and use it up. Dr. Ong-Lim abused me of that as she pointed out that this needs to be prepared daily. Her recommendation for a bleach solution: dilute 45ml per liter of water freshly prepared daily because it evaporates and concentration might change. Just prepare enough for the day and discard the unused solution.

#6 Breathe easy with Oximeters.

Early on, we bought an Oximeter along with no-contact thermometers and several over the counter medicines that may be handy to treat symptoms. I was relieved to hear that it can help not just for personal use and peace of mind, but in the event that someone in your home gets the virus. Dr. Ong-Lim said that one’s oxygen level must be a minimum of 94%. For COVID patients, she suggests monitoring once a day or up to every 8 hours. Patients (and their families) must be in contact with a health professional to ensure proper monitoring.

#7 Tanking the idea of Oxygen tanks.

I had this idea that in the event of an emergency, we can use an oxygen tank to ease the patient’s discomfort, or even revive the patient. But Dr. Ong-Lim cautioned the audience that the use of oxygen tanks must be under the supervision of a health professional. This is because the required settings will vary per person. The last thing you want is to cause more harm.

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For more useful information in battling COVID-19, check out the replay of Dr. Ong’s talk from the @upsystem Facebook page or from this link: https://www.facebook.com/upsystem/posts/4399389766750550

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.