Message from the FAHPi Executive Director: An Important Update Regarding COVID-19

/ covid19, RN Marcelo Aguanta

I wanted to provide you an update as to what FAHPi is doing as an organisation in these uncertain times.

The COVID-19 pandemic that is currently unfolding worldwide has affected us all and spared no one from head of states and governments, to the pensioner, to the travelling public and to the checkout counter personnel. Across every demographics and economic status, young and old, every gender, social standing and nationality, from the backbones of our economy to the frontliners in the intensive care unit.

I would like to address this message to the Filipino-Australians in particular to the three sectors within our community namely:

  • Filipino-Australian health practitioners,
  • Filipino international students, mostly in Health courses,
  • the older population and those with chronic diseases within our community.

I would like to reinforce the advice of the Australian Government and the Chief Medical Officer, that it is critical that we follow and heed the following:

  • Stay at home when feeling unwell or showing any of the following signs and symptoms; or when positively tested or coming from overseas travel
  • Contact your GP to receive a professional advice
  • Adhere to social distancing
  • Only go out of the house for essential transaction

These measures as we all know will help to ‘flatten the curve’ which means that it can slow down the spread of infection within our community to a degree where our health system could cope. Filipino-Australians, Australians with Filipino descent working in health comprise a considerable portion of the total health practitioners working in Australia. Majority of you are frontliners in this pandemic and it is important that you will be protected from the risk of contracting the virus and spreading it to your family and the community.

Correct wearing of the recommended Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is as important as correct disposing of those materials. You also have to ensure that you observe the 5-point of hand hygiene and hand-washing technique in the clinical environment. Let me explain further the correct disposing and aftercare of your PPEs as this is crucial in the transmission of the virus. After work, where possible, it is important to change your scrubs or uniform, leave your work shoes at work, then change to your regular clothes and go straight home. Where this is not possible, for example if you do not wear clinical scrubs at work and wear the prescribed uniform and shoes instead, ensure that you change your clothes and shoes in a containment area at work, wrap them in disposable plastic or if at home, do this in a specific area in your house, for example the front foyer or garage. Remove your uniforms, shoes, hats, etc wash the clothes straight into laundry and wash or have a shower. This is very important to keep you clean and protect your family and loved ones from the risk of transmission.

For Filipino international students, we have put together some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to address your concerns in relation to your education, visa compliance, student support services, consular assistance, health concerns and other needs. Please refer to the link below.

Also download the Coronavirus Australia app, register and be informed of the latest updates. In the event that you suspect that you could have the infection, contact your education provider or private General Practitioner for advice.

For our older Filipino-Australians, those over 50 years old if you have Aboriginal heritage, those over 60 years old if you have underlying conditions or above 70 years old even if you are fit and well, the advice is to stay home for your own benefit and avoid unnecessary exposure to the community.

Again, if you really need to go out, be mindful of the restrictions and do it at the shortest possible time. This is not the time to meet and catch-up with friends for a coffee or chat or browse around the shopping area. Get your essential food and purchases and go straight home as it is the safest place for you right now as we want you to stay healthy and away from potential risk of infection. There are several developments that are unfolding and more information will be posted in the days to come.

Let us be proud as health professionals who are frontliners in this COVID-19 pandemic, but above all let us stay healthy and safe. As Australians with Filipino descent and as Filipino-Australians and Filipino students studying in Australia we are renowned for our dedication to work, resilience and ingenuity. Together we can all get through this difficult time with the help and assistance from our government and guidance from the One above us.

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