Makeshift hospitals in Wuhan, China have closed down after its last group of COVID-19 patients have been discharged. Photo by Reuters
Culture Spotlight

Here are pieces of good news about COVID-19 that will keep our hopes up

In the midst of fear, panic, and despair, pockets of good news here and around the world begin to show. BY BAM V. ABELLON
| Mar 18 2020

The recent events surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic has everyone glued to the news. For months now, people wake up searching for announcements from the government, details on confirmed cases and deaths both in the Philippines and abroad, and any other information that they could gather to help ease the fear of the unknown. The same information is what we consume, too, before we go to sleep.

What we need is good news, once in a while, because as much as we want the truth, we also want to need to keep our faith.  

On March 10, all make-shift hospitals for COVID-19 patients in the city of Wuhan, in the Chinese province of Hubei have been closed, according to Reuters. This move by the city, where the virus originated, is a sign that their efforts to deter the disease from spreading is beginning to find success.  

Many more signs are pointing to life going back to normal in China. Stores that were temporarily closed—such as the country's 42 Apple outlets—have reopened according to BBC. The company's performance in the nation is an economic indicator, and a positive trend for it bodes well for the Chinese as a whole.

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South Korea is seeing a decline in the number of new cases. The country has recorded one of the highest confirmed cases of COVID-19 at 8,236 as of March 16, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). A March 13 article on Newsweek reads, “Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) reported more recoveries than new cases.” Although the KDC remains vigilant in reminding the citizens not to be complacent.

More recoveries than new cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the hard-hit South Korea, according to a recent Newsweek report. Photo by Yonhap via Reuters

Biotech companies are in the process of developing a vaccine for the virus. These companies include Moderna from Massachusetts; BioNTech and CureVac from Germany; and Inovio from San Diego, to name a few. CNN reported on March 17 that Moderna, who collaborated with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) for their vaccine, has already given a dose to their first healthy participant. The succeeding phases are expected to continue for a few months. The haste in which the modern vaccines are being created and approved for research shows us how far technology and our scientists have come.

To add to the achievements of scientists, the world was given another glimmer of hope recently. Some doctors from Johns Hopkins University in Maryland are pushing to do more research on using recovered patients’ blood to somehow hasten the recovery period of confirmed patients, according to a report by NBC News. The method had been used in other health crises, such as the Spanish flu in 1918 and the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003, and Ebola epidemic in 2014. According to the article, doctors in China have already begun using this method to treat COVID-19, and they have so far arrived at favorable results. Although scientists admit that it’s not a cure, it may lessen a patient’s recovery period.  

 

Local triumphs

On March 17, the Department of Health (DOH) reported the recovery of one Filipino male from Negros Oriental. He was one of the two repatriates from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, where more than 700 passengers were infected with the virus. He was confirmed positive on March 9, and is now the fourth from the Philippines to have recovered from COVID-19.

And we will never get tired of mentioning that early this March, a team of Filipino scientists were able to invent low-cost COVID-19 test kits, led by microbiology and biotechnology expert Dr. Raul Destura. Their test kit will only cost PHP 1,320, in contrast to the other test kits that cost around PHP 8,500 per kit.

A group of local scientists, led by Dr. Raul Destura, developed a low-cost COVID-19 testing kit. Photo by Chris Clemente

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said in a press conference on Monday that additional test kits have already been donated to the country: 2,000 kits from China, with another 10,000 test kits arriving this week; and 500 test kits from South Korea, with additional 5,000 to 10,000 units arriving this week, as well.

In the same press conference, Duque assured the public, “I am confident that with many testing kits arriving, and many have in fact arrived, we will be able to pick up positives but mild cases so that the number of deaths will be further diluted.”

We wait with bated breath for what’s to come. But, at least, we could wait with hope. For some people, that’s all they need to get through the day.