Emergency home kit (Part 1)

"Here’s something I lifted from the Wall Street Journal."


Last week , we featured in this space a biting, informative and educational piece on ivermectin as a possible prophylactic or even a cure against the deadly Covid 19 virus written by Doctor Romeo Quijano, a retired UP College of Medicine Professor and leading member of the college’s Pharmacology Department.

We have since been receiving a barrage of comments, suggestions and requests for us to dig deeper into possible treatments, here and abroad, as part of our common efforts to stem the fears and enhance the hopes of our people for deliverance from this disease. With surges in infection, an increasingly overburdened healthcare system and continuing economic downturn we are almost at the end of our wits. All is not lost, however.

Apart from ensuring the implementation of the minimum health protocols to the best of our ability, a concerted effort to ramp up the global vaccination roll out should be a top priority taking into account the need to enhance  production and ensure a fairer and more equitable distribution of this much needed treatment.

In this regard, we urge the government and other concerned sectors to provide and disseminate as widely as possible all available information to educate our people on this disease. Doing so would enable each and every citizen to be active, not passive and laid-back, warriors against this virus. Lessons learned from the experience of those who survived COVID 19 including those from such countries as Israel, Vietnam and New Zealand,  to name just three of the more successful  in dealing with this disease.

In a bid to enhance public awareness and participation in proactively dealing with this virus aside from practicing the mandated health protocols and while waiting for the responsible roll out of our vaccination program, I have abridged a number of materials from various publications for the purpose. From the very start, we have always maintained that battling the virus begins with us: we should be responsible enough to take care of ourselves so we can take care of our family members and the larger community.

To be fair, the Department of Health has a website featuring precisely that call “BIDA Solutions: Be The Solution” urging each and every one of us to get into the act with lots of materials on Covid 19 including a running FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) which is quite a ponderous read but easily  accessed by those who have the means and the time to check it out. How I miss the simple, danceable guides which the late Secretary of Health and Senator Johnny Flavier used to issue as and when “disease seasons” occur such as flu, dengue and the like which would be more appropriate under the circumstances.

In any event, an article written by Hillary Putkewitz published in the April 2, 2020 issue of the Wall Street Journal entitled “What To Put in a Covid 19 Emergency Home Kit” may be an easier and more informative read. The idea is clear: not all Covid cases need to be hospitalized;  in fact, only the most serious ones need to be there. The DoH and LGUs may want to consider disseminating this home kit advisory in as wide a manner as possible. Here goes:      

“Most Covid-19 cases don’t require hospitalization, and as intensive-care beds fill, all but the most critical cases are being sent home. So, people should be prepared to care for themselves or their loved ones under their own roof—and that means having the right supplies to nurse the ill patient and keep the rest of the family healthy.

“We asked doctors at top hospitals all over the country what they would include in their ideal COVID-19 home-care kit. We gathered their best suggestions and advice to help you organize your own.

“Safety and cleaning

“Isolation and cleaning supplies: bleach; face masks that cover nose and mouth (surgical masks, home-improvement masks or scarfs); gloves for entering sick room and doing laundry (latex or nitrile rubber); hand sanitizer; laundry detergent (wash everything on hot); nail brush; paper towels; soap; tissues.

“The first task is to isolate patients with their own stash of tissues, disinfecting wipes, paper towels, soap and warm water.

“‘At the top of my wish list would be an extra bedroom with an attached bathroom. That’s the ideal scenario,’ says David Buchholz, senior medical director at Columbia University Irving Medical Center. Most people don’t have that luxury, but it is worth disrupting the rest of the household to try.  ‘If you have a one-bedroom apartment, the sick person gets the bedroom. That’s key. They can’t leave, and nobody can enter. Not even pets,’ Dr. Buchholz says.

“Another key piece of equipment: Masks. Patients should wear a face mask anytime they leave their room, and these excursions should be limited—in other words, bathroom trips only. Anyone entering the room should also wear a mask, and the sick person should likewise mask up for all visitors, regardless of age.

“You’ll also need gloves—rubber or latex—when you enter the sickroom or when you clean. Stock up on cleaning supplies, because everything the sick person touches—like cutlery, door knobs or the bathroom sink—must be cleaned. You can make a DIY bleach preparation by diluting five tablespoons of bleach per gallon of water. Regular hand soap is crucial, too.

“‘I cannot emphasize enough the importance of hand hygiene: Washing your hands with warm, soapy water and wiping down surfaces that have been touched. We know this works,’ Dr. Chun says. She recommends a nail brush to scrub under fingernails.


“Medical supplies: cough drops; over-the-counter cold medicines; pulse oximeter and batteries (there is a pulse-oximeter app available for the iPhone, but none of the doctors we spoke to recommended it); saline nasal spray; thermometer; Tylenol/acetaminophen (children’s or infant’s versions if applicable).

“Anyone who falls ill should keep in contact with their doctor and let them know if symptoms worsen. To that end, a thermometer is helpful. Since COVID-19 can affect breathing, several doctors also recommended obtaining an at-home pulse oximeter: a device that clips onto the finger and measures heart rate and blood oxygen levels, which are important indicators of how well the lungs are functioning, says Andra Blomkalns, chair of emergency medicine at Stanford School of Medicine. ‘I ordered 600 of them to send home with patients, and I’m glad I did.’ Oximeters are sold over the counter at pharmacies and retailers.

“‘For a really sick person who’s not sick enough to be admitted to the hospital but they’re on the edge, having an oximeter can be incredibly reassuring,’Dr. Buchholz says.

“Have your regular cold medicines on hand and Tylenol or acetaminophen. If the patient is under 18, make sure you have children’s or infant’s versions.

“For a dry cough, throat lozenges can be helpful, as long as the child is old enough not to choke on them. For younger children, “if they have throat pain, a little bit of warm tea with honey is a nice way to go,” Dr. Zerr says.

“Food and drink

“Nutrition supplies: chicken soup; daily multivitamin and vitamin C tablets; electrolyte-replacement drinks (if using sports drinks, cut in half with water); fresh ginger, lemons, dill, fresh or dried oregano; high-calorie, nutrient-rich foods like avocados; honey for throat soothing; pectin-rich foods like bananas and apples.

“As with any flu-like virus, it is important that the patient drink plenty of fluids. Occasionally, Covid-19 can cause gastrointestinal distress and diarrhea, and replenishing fluids in those cases is especially important, as dehydration can worsen a fever, Dr. Blomkalns says. Electrolyte-replacement drinks are recommended, but popular sports drinks like Gatorade tend to have high amounts of sugar, so they should be cut in half with water for both children and adults, she says.

“Some patients tend to lose their appetite when sick, especially children, so Dr. Zerr recommends having on hand comforting, high-calorie but nutrient-dense foods like apple sauce and avocados.

“A couple of doctors recommended daily multivitamin and vitamin C tablets. ‘And never underestimate the power of chicken soup,’ says Mark Hyman, head of innovation at the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine. ‘Protein is very important when fighting viral illnesses.’

“He recommends adding dill, oregano and ginger to soups for their antiviral properties. One of Dr. Hyman’s favorite home remedies is his “cold-buster tea”: a 2-inch chunk of fresh ginger root, sliced thin, boiled in a pot of water for several minutes. Add fresh lemon juice, honey and cayenne pepper. Steep for five minutes. ‘It becomes this spicy, sweet and tangy thing,’ he says. ‘It’s great.’

“Of course, for our purposes given our limited resources and the problematic environment where many of those who have been infected live, a number of those ‘prescribed’ arrangements may not be forthcoming at all. But there should be a way by which our health and local officials may overcome these and adopt measures appropriate under the circumstances. Just having a Home Care Medical Kit with the most elementary drugs, paracetamol, cough syrup and the like, may liven up the spirits. I understand, in Panama and I am told even in Vietnam, government made available generic equivalent drugs to the most vulnerable members of the population, It should not be hard for us to do the same.”

(To be continued)   

Topics: Romeo Quijano , COVID-19 , UP College of Medicine Professor , Department of Health
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