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How vulnerable am I to the COVID-19?

The SARS-CoV-2 continues to spread throughout the world and there’s now talk of the COVID-19 reaching pandemic levels. It’s not going to be the end of the world or the start of a zombie breakout but one cannot avoid getting anxious. I myself have been worrying ever since reading about it back in December last year. Primarily because I have not been of the greatest of health; underweight, prone to allergic rhinitis which would easily develop into upper respiratory infection. That alone is enough to make life very hard for at least a couple of weeks until it gets resolved. To top it all off, I work in an office building where there’s a lot of foreign nationals on a daily basis.

So the worry is real. Thankfully most of the answers to the question in the title of this post, can be found on an article by Dr Edsel Maurice Salvaña, M.D., DTM&H, FPCP, FIDSA on Esquire Magazine:

Early data is showing that about 80% of people who get sick with COVID-19 will develop only mild symptoms, while 20% can develop more severe disease. The ones at highest risk for a bad outcome are the elderly and those with chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, and lung disease. A greater percentage of men compared with women with COVID-19 have died in China, and this may have been partly because more males smoke in China. Protecting your loved ones means avoiding unnecessary travel and practicing social distancing. Elderly people should avoid crowds and crowded places. Make sure everyone’s vaccinations for influenza and bacterial pneumonia are up to date since these can prove fatal if they occur at the same time as a COVID-19 infection. Now is also the best time to stop smoking.

Dr Edsel Maurice Salvaña, M.D. A Coronavirus Pandemic Isn’t the End of the World

I may not be young anymore but certainly not too old to be considered an ‘elderly’ just yet. Heart disease and diabetes free. However, I do have a history of lung disease and that’s where the worry really comes from. On the other hand some level of comfort comes from the fact that I don’t smoke cigarettes and having been on a drinking hiatus since last October, my exposure to second-hand smoke has been practically eliminated.

The real trick now is to keep my self in better health. Wash my hands more often and minimize travel. I even started to use my elbows in pushing the elevator buttons and consciously avoid touching door handles and the overhead bar at jeepneys.

In addition, I regularly keep myself updated with news & information about the COVID-19 from credible sources. Hopefully it would be enough to be spared from this disease along with my family. Hoping even more that a local outbreak would not happen even though the recent moves of the government in response to SARS-CoV-2 spread does not inspire confidence and even adds to our worries, there’s only so much that we can do.

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Quo Warranto petition against ABS-CBN – merits & warts

As I have posted on Facebook a few days ago, it was quite surprising that to have found some merit in the the quo warranto petition filed by Solicitor-Genral Jose Calida against ABS-CBN last February 10 at the Supreme Court.

Before I continue, a few clarifications: I have always criticized the Duterte administration for its patently-wrong war against drugs, to glaring hints of corruption, incompetence, unacceptable pivot to China and its many anti-poor policies. However, it’s important to keep an open mind and after reading the quo warranto petition, there are some valid, and to my mind are quite simple, points that the Solicitor-General has raised:

Number 1: Offering the digital pay-per-view TV channel Kapamilya Box Office (KBO) using a free-to-air frequency. In the petition, the OSG gave as basis orders, yes there were two: dated April 29, 2015 and May 14, 2019, from the National Telecommunications Commission that told ABS-CBN to “refrain from offering any pay television service” as there are still no established guidelines for it.

To date, ABS-CBN still operates KBO channel which is accessible via its own digital set-top box called ABS-CBN TV Plus. On top of this, which is another violation as per the OSG, the KBO channel can only be accessed by first buying the set-top box and then paying a subscription fee.

Number 2: Transferring the legislative franchise of Multi-Media Telephony, Inc which came under ABS-CBN ownership through a series of acquisitions to become ABS-CBN Converge without prior approval of Congress in violation of the very same franchise.

The other points in the petition belong to the realm of corporate law: ABS-CBN Converge’s failure to offer a percentage of its stock to the public as required by its legislative franchise and lastly, its use of PDRs or Philippine Depository Reciepts in order to raise funding from foreign entities which the OSG claims as violative of the Philippine constitution, I leave to the capable hands of the more learned.

Because of all these allegations, the Solicitor-General is asking the Supreme Court to stop ABS-CBN from offering its KBO channel and to cancel its legislative franchise which could would take the media giant off the Philippine airwaves.

Full text of the quo warranto petition:

However valid these points are, it’s hard to accept that the Solicitor-General’s petition was done in the noble pursuit of justice and fulfillment of his sacred duty. Before the petition, President Duterte has been launching tirades against ABS-CBN as he holds a grudge against the network for not airing his campaign ads back when he still a Presidential candidate in 2016. Not only did he offer the unsolicited advise to the Lopezes, which owns the ABS-CBN, to just sell the network, he has publicly stated that he will see to it that it gets shut down. ABS-CBN’s legislative franchise set to expire on March 30, 2020 and with Congress deciding to take its sweet time on granting it a renewal, much of the on going debate has focused on whether or not this Duterte words will become reality.

For his part, Solicitor-General Jose Calida has made a name of using his office to go after those who get the ire of the President: online news outfit Rappler and its founder Maria Ressa are facing lawsuits instigated by him and the most recent was former Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno – removed from office by way of a quo warranto petition, again by Calida.

So the petition is also an issue of press freedom as much as it is about the rule of law in our land. Much more about this in a follow up post.

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How the novel coronavirus outbreak gave birth to #OustDuterte

A lot has happened in the past month since the world learned of the 2019 novel coronavirus that started an outbreak in the city of Wuhan in China’s Hubei province. As of this writing, figures from the WHO are as follows:

Globally
11953 confirmed (2128 new)
China
11821 confirmed (2102 new)
1795 severe (268 new)
259 deaths (46 new)
Outside of China
132 confirmed (26 new)
23 countries (4 new)

Novel Coronavirus(2019-nCoV) Situation Report – 12 as of Feb 1, 2020

In the Philippines, the numbers from the Department of Health as summarized below:

DOH tracker of novel coronavirus cases in the Philippines

The first fatality in the Philippines also earned the distinction as the first one outside of China: 44-year old male who was the companion of the first patient, 38-year old female to have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Both were tourists from Wuhan arriving at Cebu via Cebu Pacific flight 5J 241 (Hong Kong-Cebu) and DG 6519 (Cebu-Dumaguete) last Jan. 21, 2020. From Cebu, they then took a flight to Manila on January 25, 2020 via Philippine Airlines. Both airlines have pulled out the actual planes boarded by the tourists for disinfection and have had their cabin crews and pilots screened for the the coronavirus. They are also working with health authorities in tracking down and contacting the other passengers who sat nearby the two tourists.

For some measure of relief, 24 persons under investigation have tested negative for the novel coronavirus.

On January 31, the WHO declared the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern. In response, neighboring countries like Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Mongolia and Russia have declared travel restrictions on passengers from China. Meanwhile, here in the Philippines, all the government did was declare a travel restriction only to passengers coming form Hubei province where the epicenter of the of outbreak is. This slow response and deference to ‘avoiding the ire of Beijing‘ sparked public outrage that made #OustDuterte a top trending topic on Twitter.

Which was no surprise considering that on that same day, still active Presidential-aide turned Senator Christopher Go stated that President Duterte would meet have a meeting with heath experts and government officials to deal with the outbreak NEXT WEEK! Adding insult to injury, Presidential Spokesperson followed up with a statement that for Duterte, “weekends are sacred” and that he “likes to sleep long.

The response of the administration’s supporters was not totally unexpected: the deployment of online trolls and bot farms with a different, albeit hypocritical narrative: an appeal for sympathy for our Chinese brethren and that a travel ban smacks of racism:

Be careful with sharing the sob stories you read surrounding current events. Some of them are fake/propaganda…

Posted by Martin Luke Lastrilla Patiño on Friday, January 31, 2020

This quickly backfired as netizens used the troll’s message as a template to further mock and throw shade against the administration:

I'm sad. We have Chinese neighbors sa condo, and just now may nakasabay kaming babae (Chinese) with 2 kids. Ang sabi nya…

Posted by Rafael Antonio Anton Dulce on Saturday, February 1, 2020

There are a lot more of these and quite sure you’ve seen either type or both on your newsfeed. The key takeaway is this, at the very least the Duterte administration is sensitive to public opinion.

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Volcano 101: Phreatic eruption in Filipino

Nagiging aktibo ang bulkan kapag ang magma ay umaangat mula sa ilalim ng lupa. Sa pag-angat at pagtama ng magma sa water table o bahagi ng lupa kung saan naipon ang tubig sa loob ng bulkan, lumililkha ito ng steam o water vapor na kumakawala palabas sa bunganga ng bulkan o iba pang biyak sa ibabaw ng lupa.

Sa sobrang bilis ng pagdami ng water vapor, naiipon ito sa loob ng bulkan hanggang sa ito ay sumabog. Sa sobrang lakas ng pagsabog, ang mga bato ay nagiging abo na ibinubuga sa kalangitan. Ang magkahalong steam, abo at maliliit na bato ang siyang dinadala ng hangin sa ibang lugar.

Kung ang bulkan ay magbubuga ng steam at magma ito ay tinatawag na Phreatomagmatic eruption.