Dr. Vietrez Abella, chief of hospital of the Eastern Bicol Medical Center (EBMC) emphasized that people should not panic when dealing with the spreading COVID-19 (previously nCoV).
The chief of hospital aired the sentiment to officials from other agencies and members of the press at the Kapihan sa PIA (Philippine Information Agency) last Feb. 20 at Kemjie Resort and Restaurant.
“At kung tutuusin, wala namang dapat ikatakot… Kahit tabihan ka ng may nCoV, walang mangyayari dyan. Kung makipag-kissing ka, siguro. ‘Yun ang mode of transmission, so there should be no fear,” she stated.
Abella also emphasized the role of sanitizing in preventing the spread of disease, teaching the proper method of handwashing to officials and media present.
“Dapat laging nagsasanitize, every four hours, ‘yun ang instruction namin, every four hours… And take note, handwashing with soap and water is still the best, compared with, compared to alcohol or ‘yung mga hand sanitizer,” she said.
Abella also said that the Catanduanes has one advantage – its geography.
“That is the advantage of being in an island, unlike sa Manila ka, wala kang border surveillance or control. Tayo, we have that advantage. Kaya ‘yun nga, we requested immediately sa mga airports at seaports,” the chief of hospital explained.
Abella however acknowledged the presence of undocumented seaports, noting that the responsibility now falls on the newly activated Barangay Health Emergency Response Teams (BHERTs) to monitor new arrivals.
“[B]eing the BHERT, sila yung andun na frontlines. So, at least malalaman natin kung mayroong mga darating na in those areas na mayroon nang mga nag-positive sa COVID,” she said.
Liga ng mga Barangay representative Nenita Taraya however stressed that the barangays are not prepared to deal with the emerging disease.
“The barangay[s] are not really ready for this kind of emergency. The first thing we have done was to organize the [BHERTs]. We did not know how to go about it. Ngunyan ko lang nadangog… na we have to be trained,” she said.
Provincial Health Officer Hazel Palmes however explained that while the BHERTs have been organized “but not yet trained,” many more towns are beginning to schedule trainings with Provincial Health Office since last week.
“We had a meeting yesterday with the mayors, Mayor Sarmiento, Mayor Tayam of Gigmoto, Mayor Tabligan of Pandan, and a representative from Baras na next week po sila lahat magkaka-sched. Yesterday sa Pandan po, cascading na,” Palmes said.