February 6, 2023

Mayor Benjamin Magalong asked residents to wear their facial masks properly to protect themselves from the coronavirus disease-2019 (Covid-19) infection.

Dr. Jonas Sharma, head of the Emergency Room Section at Notre Dame de Chartres Hospital, relayed to the mayor his observation that many individuals wear their masks with their noses exposed.

This, he warned, is dangerous as the nose is the entry point of the virus and therefore must be covered and protected at all times.

“It is useless if you are putting on your masks but are not using them properly to protect the most vulnerable part of your face.  Please listen to the advice of our health authorities,” the mayor said.

The mayor also took note of Sharma’s recommendation to use povidone iodine nasal spray and gargle as a practical and inexpensive way to prevent virus contraction.

In a letter to the mayor dated April 29, the physician said based on researches, the use of 0.23 to two percent nasal spray led to a “significant decrease in the viral load in the nasal passages and the nasopharynx of patients that have the virus and that this compound is capable of blocking the attachment of the virus to the receptor proteins, thereby circumventing viral entry into the cells and the cascade of the disease process.”

Sharma suggested this procedure to use the spray or gargle: To make a 0.5 percent solution, mix one part of the 10 percent povidone iodine to 19 parts of normal saline or get one milliliter of povidone iodine and add 20 ml of sterile water.  Place in a nasal spray or any small spray bottle.

Spray in each nostril with head slightly bowed down and then inhale through the nostril, two sprays each nostril, three times a day (before the morning session, right after lunch, and before reaching home).

He said the same solution can be used as gargle, but make sure that the brand you procure is cleared for oral use of gargle. Use it three to four times a day if with high risk to exposure or one to two times a day if low risk.

“This may be done even by health care workers who risk exposure to the virus. Persons who may not use the solution are only those who are allergic to iodine and shellfish and perhaps persons with thyroid and renal issues. Otherwise, this solution is deemed generally safe,” the doctor said.

Sharma believes that the method is effective and hopes to share it to the public. He said the recommendation is supported by studies and literatures, which also attest to its safety and efficacy.

“The only drawback to this measure is a slight irritation in the nose that lasts only about a minute or so.  But given this time of crisis, this should not be much of an inconvenience,” he said. – Aileen P. Refuerzo