Journo Jess News Update – Episode Four

Check out my latest Virtual News Update – Featuring a clip from my interview with a doctor who is based in Brazil. Dr. Illana shares with me what has been the hardest part about being a doctor during this pandemic.  👀 👇🏻 👀

Here is the link to the news story following this news story update: Covid-19 EXCLUSIVE: Doctor in Brazil assists in pandemic

Covid-19 EXCLUSIVE: Doctor in Brazil assists in pandemic

“Take this pandemic seriously. You protect me, so I can protect you.” – Dr. Ilana Fukuchi dos Santos

Life in Brazil during the Covid-19 pandemic

According to the John Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, Brazil is currently listed as the second highest of confirmed Coronavirus cases.

I was curious to see why Brazil’s numbers are so high and how the doctors are handling this high volume of cases; therefore, I connected with a doctor who practices in Brazil –  Dr. llana Fukuchi dos Santos, Otorhinolaryngologist doctor (ear, nose, and throat doctor) and owner of Pro Médica Clinic, who shared with me her insight as to why the numbers are so high.

“50% of the Brazilian’s population are taking seriously and are doing their best to social distance and stay at home as much as they can. But for a lot of people who are social-distancing or are in communities that aren’t as hard hit – I think people are reluctant to believe in things they don’t see.”

– Dr. Illana Fukuchi dos Santos

Dr. Illana also said, another reason why the Coronavirus confirmed cases have been so high is because there are certain parts of Brazil that are over-crowded. Cities like São Paulo has a population of 12 million and Rio de Janeiro has a population of 6 million, which makes it extremely difficult to social distance, because they are over-crowded cities.

“Brazil is the largest country in Latin America. At 8.5 million square kilometres (3.2 million square miles) and with over 211 million people. Brazil is the world’s fifth-largest country by area and the sixth most populous.”

– Dr. Illana Fukuchi dos Santos

Santa Teresa, Brazil. “Paisagem do Rio a partir do Bairro de Santa Teresa.” by Lais Castro Trajano is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 

Furthermore, Dr. Illana also spoke to me about how the Coronavirus pandemic has affected all aspects of her life: how she and her staff have had to change how they operate things at her Clinic, how it has affected her family and their normal lifestyle of daily living, and how the pandemic has had a negative impact on her country’s economy.

The Pro Médica Clinic

In Brazil, in order for a person to get tested for the Coronavirus, they have to have a prescription from a doctor. Therefore, Dr. Illana has been assisting patients who are having Coronavirus symptoms by providing them with a prescription to get tested.

Dr. Illana told me more about how she is helping her patients and what she is finding are the most common Coronavirus symptoms that her patients are experiencing.

“I work in a clinic, not an Emergency Hospital.

So the patients that do come in have mild symptoms. If I suspect that they have the Coronavirus, I prescribe a viral test called the PCR test, but the results take 5-7 days to get back.

So I recommend for them to stay home for 14 days (which includes to not work), social distance at home, take care of themselves, get rest, stay hydrated, and stay alert for emergency warning signs – such as trouble breathing, pain or pressure in the chest, inability to wake or stay awake, or having to stop to take breaks during a normal conversation.

But in the beginning of the pandemic, we didn’t have the PCR tests available for patients with mild to moderate symptoms. So we considered those patients as positive Covid patients.”

– Dr. Illana Fukuchi dos Santos

According to the World Health Organization, the Coronavirus affects people in different ways. The most common symptoms that people generally experience are “fever, dry cough, and tiredness.” However, Dr. Illana said, she has been noticing the less common symptoms for the Coronavirus in her patients.

“The most common symptoms in my clinic is the loss of smell or taste and they were the only symptoms that they had. All patients that test Covid-19 positive get their senses back in 2-3 weeks. Just one of them had a fever for 2 days, fatigue, muscle aches, and a headache.”

– Dr. Illana Fukuchi dos Santos

As for how Dr. Illana and her staff operate things at their clinic, they have had to change everything in order to keep a clean and safe environment for their patients and themselves, while also abiding by the guidelines that have been put in place by the World Health Organisation.

“In the clinic everyone (staff and patient) has to wear a face mask. We have hand sanitiser right at the front door and in the reception, waiting room, and restrooms.

All of the surfaces – floor, elevator, and handrails – are disinfected every two hours. We are working with half of the capacity of patients.

The staff in the reception wear a mask, cap, and we have a glass cover that separates the secretary attendant from the patient. The staff at the reception has to clean the tables, phones, keyboards, and pens every two hours, and wash their hands more often.

I wear a  N95 mask (tight respirator masks), face shield, cap, and gloves to examine the patient. I do not touch my face for six hours until I leave the clinic.”

– Dr. Illana Fukuchi dos Santos

With regards to the situation of doctors who are experiencing a shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE),  Dr. Illana said a shortage of PPE has been a problem for her and her staff during this pandemic. Fortunately, with the help of her community they have not had to go without.

“We have some Brazilian factories producing some respirator masks, but with the increase of the number of patients with COVID-19, they are not enough.

Our main productions are from China, which they just started to produce again a month ago.

Here in my city – gowns and caps are homemade from a voluntary group of seamstresses.”

– Dr. Illana Fukuchi dos Santos

Furthermore, Dr. Illana said that she wears special PPE in order to keep herself best protected while she is working during this pandemic.

“I have three N95 masks. Each day I use one of them – after 3 weeks I need to switch all of them. Gloves are starting to disappear. I bought them on the internet, and they were almost ten times more expensive as they were before the pandemic started.”

– Dr. Illana Fukuchi dos Santos

Another way that Dr. Illana is managing to keep her staff, her patients, and herself safe was reduce the number of patients that they normally would see in a day.

“We have had to reduce the number of patients that are on the schedule, because we have to practice social distancing in the reception area, waiting room, and after each appointment. I also have to sanitise my office. So, it’s a higher cost, but everyone is staying safe and healthy!”

– Dr. Illana Fukuchi dos Santos

To hear more from Dr. Illana Fukuchi dos Santos and what more her clinic is doing to help during the Covid-19 pandemic watch my interview with her in the video below. 👇🏻👀👇🏻

How has this pandemic affected Dr. Ilana’s family?

Dr. Ilana Fukuchi dos Santos and her husband Dr. Frederico Xavier dos Santos

Dr. Ilana and her husband Dr. Frederico Xavier dos Santos have two children together. She said that this pandemic has been extremely difficult for her family as it has changed their normal lifestyle and what they would normally do as a family; however, they have learned how to do new things together at home, which has increased their family time and has allowed for them to grow closer together as a family.

“My husband is an Ophthalmologist and is in the same clinic as I am.

We are working and the kids need to stay with a babysitter. They are being home-schooled, which is extremely hard for us and for them.

The kids are not playing sports, going to the playground, or hanging out with friends. We are also not dinning out for family dinners at restaurants and we are not going on our family trips.

But we do spend more time together as a family: we cook together, watch a lot of movies at home, socialise during lunch and dinner, and we take care of our garden and our dog as a family.”

– Dr. Illana Fukuchi dos Santos

Dr. Santos’ son doing homework
Dr. Santos’ kids decorate window – Tudo Vai Ficar Bem – “Everything will be fine”
Dr. Santos with her daughter and her dog

To hear more from Dr. Illana and how she and her family are coping with the Coronavirus pandemic watch my interview with her in the video below. 👇🏻👀👇🏻

How has the pandemic impacted Brazil’s economy?

According to IBGE – Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics, 4.9m Brazilians have lost their jobs since the Coronavirus pandemic began. In April 2020, the output of industry fell 18.8% against the result of March 2020. It is the most significant decrease since the Brazilian Institute  began logging in 2002, and reflects the effects of social isolation due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Among the industrial activities, the most significant negative contribution came from motor vehicles, trailers and bodies (-88.5%), affected, to a great extent, by interruptions of production in many industrial plants, as a consequence of the effects of the  COVID-19 pandemic.

Furthermore, many cities in Brazil do have a lot of locally owned street shops and they have had to close due to the pandemic.

To help them, the Brazilian Senate has approved an emergency aid of R$600 (USD $112 or £89) monthly to those informal workers – i.e. street vendors. Additionally, mothers who are responsible for supporting their families will receive R$1200 (USD $232 or £185.03).

Even though the cost of living in Brazil is not is not as high as other countries, the amount that the government is providing –  R$600 – may not  be enough; therefore, there are still a lot of businesses that continue to stay open.

Street shop in São Paulo, Brazil

Moreover, Dr. Illana explains what will have to happen after the pandemic is over in order to get their economy back to good standing.

“Brazil will need to reorganise the economy. We will face a recession, unemployment, and mental health problems.

The big deal is to increase the economy and rethink what we can do to make money.

I hope that what follows the crisis will be an extremely creative and experimental phase that will allow us to put in place good practices for living and working.”

– Dr. Illana Fukuchi dos Santos

Dr. Illana said, families are already having to get creative in ways they can make money, because jobs have been effected due to the pandemic; for example, selling things.

Dr. Illana also said, the biggest part of Brazil’s economy that has been impacted has been on travel and tourism. According to UNWTO, Brazil’s tourism revenue amounted to 6.18 billion U.S. dollars in 2017; therefore, Brazil relies heavily on tourists’ visiting Brazil to stabilise their economy.

To hear more from Dr. Illana and her views on how she and her country are going to overcome this pandemic watch my interview with her in the video below. 👇🏻👀👇🏻

Final words from Dr. Illana

 Dr. Illana Fukuchi dos Santos

Furthermore, Dr. Illana provides insights on what the hardest part is about being a doctor during this pandemic. Here is what she had to say:

“The Coronavirus is a new disease (5-6 months) – we do not have a medication that is able to cure the disease. Almost 10% will die, 20% will need hospital assistance and 80% will recover. The greatest challenge is to create a vaccine in a truly short time. I think the hardest part about being a doctor during this pandemic is feeling powerless to combat this disease. And staying mentally well with that.”

– Dr. Illana Fukuchi dos Santos

Dr. Illana also said, she is doing everything she can as a doctor to best assist during this pandemic. As she is a doctor who is based in Brazil, she provides advice for her country as they continue to overcome this pandemic:

“If you have high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, heart attack or stroke, chronic respiratory disease, cancer and if you can STAY HOME. If you can’t  stay home use a face mask, practice social distancing, and wash your hands often. If you have a fever, cough, change of the senses, or fatigue – quarantine for at least 10 days.

Take this pandemic seriously. You Protect me, so I can protect you.”

– Dr. Illana Fukuchi dos Santos

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The Covid-19 Pandemic Articles

Photo credit: ©Stock image –  1707462853 – by Andy Dean Photography

Featured below: In this section of my portfolio, you can click on the Titles or Images to view the Coronavirus articles I have written thus far. 

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