MANILA - Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, who recently recovered from his second infection with COVID-19, said Wednesday coronavirus patients must be mentally prepared in fighting COVID-19 and urged them to stay in isolation facilities or hospitals for immediate medical care.
The co-chair of the National Task Force against the COVID-19 pandemic has been declared fit to work after recovering from his second bout of the respiratory disease that has sickened more than 245,000 in the country, of whom 3,986 died.
Año, 58, said he suspects his first positive result for the coronavirus in March was "false." He was the first member of President Rodrigo Duterte's Cabinet to be infected with COVID-19.
"Wala akong symptoms nun. This second time, matindi talaga ng symptoms," he told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.
(I had no symptoms then. This second time, the symptoms were severe.)
"I’m glad din na nakapaghanda ako at na-confine ako sa hospital. Kasi siguro kung sa bahay, mahirap," the former military chief said, adding that he was hospitalized for 11 days.
(I'm glad I was prepared and confined to a hospital. If I was at home, it would have been difficult.)
"You really have to watch for the symptoms and manage it. If you feel difficulty in breathing, dapat talaga ma-ospital na kayo kasi bigla lang talaga siya."
(You really have to watch for the symptoms and manage it. If you feel difficulty in breathing, you should be taken to a hospital because it happens all of a sudden).
Año said he felt the illness' symptoms all at once on his third day at the hospital. He avoided being intubated by getting up whenever he felt difficulty in breathing, he said.
"Pinakamahirap dun, yung walang tigil na ubo, every second, day and night. Tapos dry cough siya. Wala ka namang mailabas," he said.
(The hardest was the non-stop cough, every second, day and night. And it was dry cough.)
"Ang ginagawa ko, 'pag kailangan kong huminga, talagang bumabangon ako. Kahit na hirap na hirap na, lumalakad ako. Ang gusto ng COVID, nakahiga ka lang… So, kailangan labanan."
(What I did was, every time I need to breathe, I get up. Even if it's difficult, I take a walk. COVID wants you to be bed-ridden... So, you need to fight it.)
"Ang sabi ng mga doctor, wala talaga silang magagawa kundi manage the symptoms, and watch for oxygen level. I was given blood-thinner shots. Yun, sa tingin ko, pinakamalaking factor din yun kasi karamihan sa mga may COVID - moderate and critical - kapag in-attack na yung kanilang lungs, sunsunod nu'n ina-attack lahat ng blood vessels. Nagkakaroon ng tinatawag natin na blood clotting," shared Año.
(The doctors said that they can't do anything but manage the symptoms, and watch for my oxygen level. I was given blood-thinner shots. I think that was a very signifiant factor because many of those with COVID - moderate and critical -, the virus attacks the lungs, and then the blood vessels. So, blood clotting occurs.)
Being confined in a hospital or in an isolation facility provides medical care to virus patients, Año said, thus, his proposal against just going on home quarantine, even for the asymptomatic and mild cases.
"Tapos, kung biglang mag-deteriorate ang condition mo, automatic meron ka na kaagad reserved na COVID room or ICU room for you. So di ka talaga magwo-worry, unlike 'pag nasa bahay ka lumala bigla, ang bilis eh," he said.
(If your situation deteriorates, you automatically have a COVID or ICU room for you. So, you won't worry unlike if you're at home and it suddenly happened.)
"Sabi ko nga, yung mga nagkaka-COVID, 'wag kayong matakot. Our healthcare workers are really competent enough. Pero wala silang magagawa kung too late ka na, kung nagtatago ka, ayaw mong sabihin."
(I urge our COVID-19 patients not to worry. Our healthcare workers are really competent enough. But they can't do anything if you won't come forward.)
Counseling should also be provided for virus patients who are separated from their families, Año said.
"I sympathize with other patients who are not lucky and still struggling. Talagang, psychologically, dapat prepared ka rin (You should also be prepared psychologically)," he said.
"You’re taking away this person from his family. So, kung ano-ano ang pumapasok sa isipan niya. So, kailangan may magka-counsel na, 'This is what to expect, this is what’s going to happen. After 14 days you’re going to be okay.'"
(You’re taking away this person from his family. So, all sorts of things go into his mind. There has to be someone who can counsel him that, 'This is what to expect, this is what’s going to happen. After 14 days you’re going to be okay.')
Año said he is joined by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Sec. Carlito Galvez and Sec. Vince Dizon of the National Action Plan Against COVID-19, and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III in proposing the "No Home Quarantine" measure as a rule, rather than as an exemption.
"We found out, in Cebu, in Calabarzon, and even in Manila, ang culprit bakit hindi matigil yung community and local transmissions, because of the improper adherence to the home quarantine protocol," he said.
(We found out, in Cebu, in Calabarzon, and even in Manila, the culprit for the continuing community and local transmissions is improper adherence to the home quarantine protocol.)
"At kahit anong gawin mo talaga, andun ka eh. For example, sa bahay ko, maganda 'yung set-up... Meron talagang my own room, kumpleto, nandun 'yung CR. Kasi, 'yung isang function room namin, kinonvert namin into isolation room. Pero alam mo, nahawa pa rin 'yung wife ko," he shared.
(Whatever you do, you are still there. For example, in my house, we have a good set-up. I have my own room, complete with a restroom, because we converted our function room into an isolation room. But my wife was still infected.)
Año's wife, who was not hospitalized, has also recovered.
The DILG chief cited Navotas City and Valenzuela City in imposing the "No Home Quarantine" policy that, according to him, led to a decline in the spread of the disease there.
"In Cebu, kaya tumaas ang (kaso in) Cebu, we found out, kalahati ng kanilang positive ay nasa bahay... Nung pagka-ECQ (dun), inisa-isa natin, inilipat lahat ng mga positives. Look at Cebu City now, it's now under MGCQ," he said.
(In Cebu, that's why there was a surge there in cases, we found out that half of the positive patients are just in their homes... So, when we declared enhanced community quarantine there, we searched for positive patients one by one, and transferred them. Look at Cebu City now, it's now under modified general community quarantine.)
The proposed measure, he said, will help not just in flattening the country's COVID-19 curve, but even bring it down.
"Instead na ila-lockdown mo 'yung lugar, 'yung barangay, ang i-lock down natin, yung mga (COVID) positives at suspects. And then, let the economy operate. So, mas maganda yun," Año said.
(Instead of locking down a place, or the barangay, we can just limit the lockdown to people found positive for or suspected with COVID. And then, let the economy operate. That is much better.)