MANILA (UPDATE) — The Department of Health (DOH) on Sunday reminded the public that practicing minimum health standards and vaccination are still the most effective ways of protection against any new COVID-19 variant or even the post-COVID condition, more commonly known as "Long COVID."
The DOH issued the statement just a few days after it announced the detection of the highly transmissible omicron BA.4 subvariant from a Filipino who traveled from the Middle East earlier in May.
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For the health department, wearing of face masks, isolating when sick, ensuring good airflow, getting vaccinated and availing of booster shots still work against both new variants and Long COVID.
Long COVID, the DOH said, has symptoms that include fatigue, cough, chest pain, shortness of breath, and joint pain, among others.
"These can be felt usually 3 months after being infected with the COVID-19 virus, may last for at least 2 months, and cannot be explained by other conditions," the department said.
"Symptoms may be new onset after one has already recovered, or may continue from the initial COVID-19 episode," it added.
There is still no test to diagnose Long COVID, the DOH said. Because of this, the public is advised to consult a doctor or healthcare provider for first aid.
Those who experience the following must seek emergency assistance: difficulty breathing (catching breath, only being able to say one word), severe chest pain, lightheadedness or fainting.
"The most effective way to avoid Long COVID is to avoid getting COVID-19 in the first place," the department said.
Virus patients who experienced moderate to severe illness were more likely to get long COVID, according to Dr. Ted Herbosa, adviser to the National Task Force Against COVID-19.
"They continue to develop symptoms of fatigue, inflammation that continues even after they have recovered from the illness," he told ANC's Headstart Monday.
The public is urged to get their booster shots while government is encouraged to allow 4th vaccine doses to the general public, Herbosa said.
Authorities have so far approved a second booster shot for vulnerable sectors such as the immunocompromised, elderly, and healthcare workers as data for the general public remains preliminary.
On Saturday, the Philippines recorded the highest number of new coronavirus infections for the month of May with 246 new cases.
This is the highest in nearly 3 weeks, according to DOH data.
The new cases brought the country's total COVID-19 caseload so far to 3,688,751. Of the new cases, 120 come from Metro Manila.