Scientist sees coconut oil as potential nCoV treatment

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 7, 2020   •   3236

A scientist is looking into coconut oil as a potential treatment for the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

Ateneo de Manila University chemistry professor Dr. Fabian Dayrit said coconut oil has antiviral agents which can help in the treatment of nCoV.

Lauric acid is a fatty acid found in coconut oil while monolaurin is a compound that is produced naturally when one consumes virgin coconut oil (VCO). It is also commercially available through chemical synthesis.

Dr. Dayrit said there had been several clinical studies proving the potential of coconut oil against various diseases including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and Junin virus which is similar to nCoV.

“As far as the available literature is concerned, it is very promising. Kasi it had been shown to work in other viruses. So, wala namang risk. So, why not try it,” he said.

“It’s not a proof, but there is enough evidence that it might work,” he added.

Dr. Dayrit said that based on research, the said antiviral agents can potentially destroy the cell membrane of a virus and stop its maturity.

“It has been shown that lauric acid and monolaurin can inhibit the replication,” he said.

The Philippines is also abundant in coconut which can produce cheaper coconut oil.

According to the Philippine Coconut Authority, the Philippines is the number one exporter of virgin coconut oil in the world. Coconut oil is also safe for animals which is also used as food supplements for farm animals and pets.

Dr. Dayrit explained that for a proper clinical study you would need a few hundred subjects depending on study design.

“We don’t have that many coronavirus patients. So, I think we have to design it to test it out just to show that it can actually work and we can move on from there,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health (DOH) is open to conduct clinical tests for the potential of coconut oil.

DOH USec. Eric Domingo said a lot of evidence is needed when it comes to treatment and management. He also calls on researchers to come up ways to look into potential treatments for nCoV.

“We are requesting iyong ating researchers dito kung pwedeng tingnan, (our researchers if they can look into it),” he said.—AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

Brazil’s Bolsonaro tested again for novel coronavirus

UNTV News   •   July 7, 2020

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said on Monday (July 6) he had undergone another test for the novel coronavirus, after local media reported he had symptoms associated with the COVID-19 respiratory disease, including a fever.

Bolsonaro told supporters outside the presidential palace that he had just visited the hospital and been tested for the virus, adding that an exam had shown his lungs “clean.”

CNN Brasil and newspaper Estado de S.Paulo reported that he had symptoms of the disease, such as a fever. The president’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Bolsonaro has repeatedly played down the impact of the virus, even as Brazil has suffered one of the world’s worst outbreaks, with more than 1.6 million confirmed cases and 65,000 related deaths, according to official data on Monday.

The right-wing populist has often defied local guidelines to wear a mask in public, even after a judge ordered him to do so in late June.

Over the weekend, Bolsonaro attended multiple events and was in close contact with the U.S. ambassador to Brazil during July 4 celebrations. The U.S. embassy in Brasilia did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Bolsonaro previously tested negative for the coronavirus after several aides were diagnosed following a visit to U.S. President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago, Florida, estate in March. (Reuters)

(Production: Leonardo Benassatto, Paul Vieira)

Police frontliners to undergo physical, mental health check—PNP

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 17, 2020

Police frontliners will undergo physical and mental check up beginning July 1, according to the Philippine National Police (PNP).

PNP Spokesperson PBGen. Bernard Banac said their troops that are manning checkpoints and other areas are also at risk for stress and anxiety, particularly when most of them have not been home for months.

Banac said a group of psychologists will monitor the physical and mental health of police officers.

“Kasabay niyan ang laboratory, X-Ray at ang ECG… so titingnan ang physical well-being mg mga pulis ( It includes laboratory, X-Ray, and ECG…so we will monitor the well-being of the police),” he said.

Banac also said they will prioritize police officers age 40 years old and above and those who will undergo the health check up should wear their complete uniform.

“Alam natin na kapag 40 years old and above mas marami nang dinaramdam physically at madali na silang maka-experience ng stress at fatigue (We know that 40-year-olds and above are more susceptible to experiencing physical fatigue. They experience stress more easily),” he added.

Police officers with the birth month of January will be scheduled for the physical and neuro-exam from July 1 to 3. Meanwhile those born in February and March will be scheduled from July 6 to 8 and July 9 to 13, respectively. AAC (with reports from Lea Ylagan)

Singapore’s migrant workers fear financial ruin after virus ordeal

UNTV News   •   June 9, 2020

As Sharif Uddin begins to dream about leaving the cramped Singapore dormitory where he has spent weeks under coronavirus quarantine, fears about his future are creeping in.

The 42-year-old Bangladeshi construction site supervisor is one of the thousands of low-income migrant workers trapped in packed bunk rooms that have been ravaged by the coronavirus, accounting for more than 90% of Singapore’s 38,000 infections.

As Singapore began easing its lockdown measures this month, migrants like Uddin started to think about returning to the outside world, bringing to the surface worries about jobs and debts as Singapore braces for its deepest-ever recession.

“The fear of losing jobs is worrying everyone at the moment,” said Uddin, who sends the bulk of his wages to his family in Bangladesh, like many of the South Asians working in manual jobs in Singapore.

For most migrant workers, at least part of their salaries is used to pay off the steep fees of the agent who helped procure the job.

Reuters has interviewed over a dozen migrant workers in Singapore in recent weeks. While many said they were still being paid, they were unsure if they will retain their jobs when the quarantine is lifted.

The Singapore government has given companies tax breaks to try and ensure migrants get paid while under quarantine and introduced measures to help laid off workers find new positions without having to first travel back to their home country, a core complaint of many labourers.

Lawrence Wong, the co-head of Singapore’s virus task force, told Reuters that the government had taken steps to help alleviate the concerns of workers around job security, but added that layoffs were possible given the grim economic outlook.

“There may be some contractors who might decide – well despite all the government measures, with the new arrangements, the new additional requirements in construction, it is very difficult and I might not want to continue in this industry – and then indeed they might release some of their workers,” said Wong, who is also the minister for national development.

He added that some workers may remain quarantined in their dormitories until August, or possibly beyond, as the government completes mass testing.

The pandemic has drawn attention to the stark inequalities in the modern city-state where more than 300,000 labourers from Bangladesh, India and China often live in rooms for 12 to 20 men, working jobs that pay as little as S$20 ($14.30) a day.

That is higher than they would make at home. But the median salary for Singaporeans in 2019 was S$4,563 per month, according to the manpower ministry.

The bigger worry for many migrants like Uddin is the debts they have racked up securing jobs in Singapore.

Migrants will usually be charged S$7,000-10,000 in fees by a recruitment agent in their home country, equivalent to more than a year of their basic salary, according to rights groups. If they lose their job, this debt could haunt their families for years.

“An indebted worker is a more compliant worker and that is what the employers like. That is one reason too that employers prefer to have new workers, than to retain old workers,” said Deborah Fordyce, president of Singapore NGO Transient Workers Count Too.

Wong, the minister, said the government will continue to work to improve migrants’ lives in Singapore, but tackling issues like fees is difficult because many agents operate in the workers’ home countries outside the city-state’s jurisdiction.

Singapore’s government has pledged to improve living conditions for migrant workers in the short-term and build new, higher-spec dormitories over the coming years. (Reuters)

(Production: Pedja Stanisic, Joseph Campbell, Edgar Su, Travis Teo)

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