Until health experts create a vaccine that will protect us from COVID-19, face masks, frequent handwashing, and social distancing will remain a part of our lives—our “new normal,” as people call it.
“Make no mistake,” declared World Health Organization Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, “we have a long way to go, this virus will be with us for a very long time.”
But we can still live happy, healthy, and productive lives amidst the threat of the novel coronavirus. This was the message of “COVID-19: How You Live After The Quarantine,” a webinar organized by Inquirer.net on May 12. Recorded live on Facebook, the webinar featured speakers Dr. Rafael Castillo (professor of cardiovascular medicine, Adventist University of the Philippines College of Medicine), Dr. Gwen Dy Agra (director of the Institute of Pulmonology Medicine, St. Luke’s Medical Center Bonifacio Global City), and Dr. Robbie Meriales (orthopedic surgeon at Makati Medical Center and a COVID-19 survivor).
Takeaways from the talk include five practical pieces of advice on how to navigate a world with COVID-19:
Have a Plan B.
Lost your job or business because of the quarantine? “Find a way to adapt,” said Dr. Agra. Explore other options, tap into your other skills, learn new technology.
While staying quarantined at home has protected us from catching the virus, it has also made us sedentary and prone to frequent snacking, thus weakening our immune system. Now’s a good a time as any to kickstart that fitness routine you’ve been meaning to do, says Dr. Agra, especially since hypertensives and the morbidly obese are at high risk for contracting COVID-19.
Combine healthy eating with vitamins and supplements.
Vitamins A, C, D, and E are known for boosting the immune system, but so are other overlooked vitamins and minerals. Zinc strengthens the immune system, too, as does melatonin, a supplement given to those who need help sleeping. “It’s unrecognized as one of the best supplements that can boost the immune system,” said Dr. Castillo. So is sunlight, which he calls one of the cheapest and most effective preventive measures against COVID-19. (READ: How do you eat healthy while in quarantine? We asked a nutritionist-dietician!)
Change your mindset.
Since news broke of the first COVID-19 patient in the Philippines, any mention of the novel coronavirus sends us into a panic. “We need to reboot our mindset and approach the problem from a victor’s mindset, a winner’s mindset,” said Dr. Castillo. “If we can do this, we can empower ourselves not only to resist getting the infection but also to be able to cope should we get infected.” (READ: 3 Ways to Take Care of Your Mental Health While in Quarantine)
Pretend that you have the virus yourself.
Dr. Meriales, who contracted COVID 19 in March (presumably from one of his patients, he said), spent two weeks in the hospital, half of the time intubated in the ICU. While there, he did simple exercises in bed, and when he was transferred to a regular room, got up to go to the bathroom. “Do not baby this thing or your body will not get better,” he said. “Get your heart moving, your lungs expanding. Kailangan kumilos po.”
These days and after a 14-day quarantine at home, Dr. Meriales is back to running 5Ks. But he continues to behave as if he still has the virus. “When you think this way, you’ll do everything you can to make sure you don’t spread it,” he said. “You’ll keep your distance, wear a mask, and constantly keep your hands clear with a sanitzer and soap and water.”