THE Philippines has added two medicinal plants to its list of therapeutic supplements in the treatment of patients with the coronavirus.
Anti-cough herb lagundi and tawa-tawa — a popular folkloric treatment for dengue — could soon be tested as supplements for COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) patients, according to the Department of Science and Technology (DoST).
“These have anti-viral properties,” DoST Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña said at an online briefing on Tuesday. Lagundi was already being used to treat cough and other respiratory infections, he pointed out.
The trial for lagundi, a medicinal herb known scientifically as vitex negundo, could start next month, he added.
The University of the Philippines-Manila Ethics Board has issued clearance for such work and experts were awaiting the Food and Drug Administration’s approval. The project is expected to run for five months.
Meanwhile, President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Monday night ordered the police to enforce lockdown restrictions amid rising coronavirus infections.
The President said failure to use face masks and observe physical distancing are “serious crimes.”
“We have to ask our police to be more strict, violators should be caught,” he said in a televised speech in mixed English and Filipino. “A little shame would put them on.”
“Who wants to get caught?” Mr. Duterte asked. “But if you are brought to the police station and detained there, that would give you a lesson for all time.”
The President’s order was part of a “unified ordinance” crafted by local governments on minimum health standards, his spokesman Harry L. Roque said at a separate news briefing.
Mr. Duterte also said he wanted to buy more face masks that will be given to the public for free.
“I will try to buy as many as I can afford, we will give these to you for free,” he said. An inter-agency task force made up of Cabinet secretaries made wearing face masks mandatory for people leaving their homes.
Mr. Duterte locked down the entire Luzon island in mid-March, suspending work, classes and public transportation to contain the pandemic. People should stay home except to buy food and other basic goods, he said.
He extended lockdown on the island twice and thrice for the capital region. The lockdown in Metro Manila has since been eased, with more businesses allowed to reopen with minimal workforce. Mass gatherings remained banned.
Coronavirus infections continue to rise, with many hospitals reaching full capacity for COVID-19 cases.
The government was fast-tracking the setup of four hospitals dedicated to coronavirus cases, Carlito G. Galvez, Jr., chief enforcer of the state’s anti-COVID-19 efforts, said at the same event on Monday night.
These are similar to hospitals built by China in less than two weeks at the height of the coronavirus crisis that started in Wuhan City, he said. — Gillian M. Cortez