Although much is still unknown about how the COVID-19 spreads, Flores said present information is largely based on what is known about similar coronaviruses.
“Ang coronavirus disease o COVID-19 is a new novel coronavirus, it is a large family of corona RNA virus, affecting or causing diseases like common colds, or even severe diseases like MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) or ‘yung SARS o severe acute respiratory syndrome-related respiratory diseases,” Flores said.
She said person-to-person spread most often happens among close contacts of around one meter so better keep some safe distance. The good doctor also said the transmission is thought to occur through respiratory droplets produced every time an infected person coughs or sneezes.
“Ayon po sa datos na ipinabigay sa atin ng WHO (World Health Organization), confirmed na may human-to-human transmission but this is through droplet transmission. Hindi po airborne transmission. So, iyon pong existing information that we have—droplet transmission po si virus.”
Flores explained that these droplets could land in the eyes, mouths, or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. She said touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or their eyes could also infect a person.
“Ibig sabihin po ng droplet, pagka ikaw ay umubo, humatsing, siyempre lalabas ‘yung virus, bababa, magdo-drop, so pwedeng ‘yan sa paligid na ‘yan, pwedeng pag nahawakan mo kahit sa lamesa, and then nahawakan ng ibang tao na may virus, tapos hinawak mo dito sa ilong mo, mag-spread na ‘yun.”
“Kasi pag-cough-out, or pag sneeze-out, it’s either matapon ‘yan depende kung gaano kalayo ‘yung projection, kasi babagsak ‘yan, maaaring pagbagsak nun [at] nakadilat ka, kaya po sa ating PPE (personal protective equipment) kasama sa proteksyon not only mask, pati yung goggles."
Flores said currently there is still no local transmission of COVID-19 in the Philippines but the country has been preparing containment measures for the possible local transmission of the coronavirus. Moreover, she said it is important to note that how easily a virus spreads person-to-person can vary as some viruses are highly contagious (like chickenpox or measles), while other viruses are less so.
“Kapag ‘yung isang bata nagka-chickenpox ‘yung isa, mahahawahan niya ‘yung kapatid niya. ‘Yun ang local transmission na tinatawag. Sa school, kapag nagkasakit ng tigdas ‘yung isang estudyante, nahawahan niya yung ibang estudyante, ganun ‘yung ibig sabihin ng local transmission. So far, wala pa naman tayo.”
As regards to pregnant women passing the virus to their newborn, Flores said early research says no and not yet conclusive.
“Base po dun sa alam nating datos ngayon, wala pong ebidenta na nagpapatunay na ‘yung isang buntis ay pwedeng mag-transmit sa kanyang anak ng COVID-19.”
Finally, going to the initial question of whether the COVID-19 can be spread through other bodily fluids, the good doctor has this to say:
“Happy Valentines po.. Sa mga mayroong ka-date bukas, enjoy! Sa mga walang ka-date, makipag-group date kayo sa mga friends. And of course, gusto kong ipaliwanag sa inyo, ang coronavirus disease is not sexually transmitted. Sabi po natin this is transmitted through human-to-human, ‘yun pong tinatawag natin na droplet transmission. But, kung sakali naman po ‘yung ka-date nyo e meron cough and cold, ganito na lang gawin nyo… mag-Hi! Hello! na lang kayo, kung baga, masasabi nga nila, we encourage [them] to avoid ang mga crowd. Kapag may sakit kayo magpagaling muna kaya. Ang ibig sabihin po natin, gusto ko pong ipaliwanag, the COVID coronavirus disease is not a sexually-transmitted disease.” (PIA NCR)
By Jerome Carlo R. Paunan