FOLLOWING our columns about COVID-19 the past several weeks in this paper, we received dozens of questions from our readers, which we have organized, consolidated, and answered below.
I am confused, mask or no mask?
If you do not have to go out, stay home, which is the safest sanctuary from any outbreak, epidemic or pandemic. This will prevent you from being exposed and become a carrier, who could infect countless people, geometrically, and rapidly, including your family.
If you have to go to the grocery, drug store, etc., wear a mask, covering nose and mouth, a cap, large goggle on top your prescription eyeglasses, and gloves, and when you get back home, wash all these in your garage with soap and warmest tolerable water, including your hands.
Wash your face in your bathroom or take a shower. Some people use two cotton ball plugs for their nose underneath their mask, since there could be leaks around the mask. An overkill? Maybe, but, as I wrote in this column before, a healthy dose of paranoia helps protect us in times like this.
The visit to the grocery/drug store, etc., should be as short as possible. Again, masks are protective, not only for you but for others too, on top of social distancing of at least 6 feet and good hygiene. Since the Wuhan epidemic, as early as February 7th, we have been advocating the use of masks and gloves. As of last Friday, the authorities have recommended everybody to wear masks when outside. For any infectious disease, timing is essential in mitigation and control.
Do people have the right to stay out and enjoy life?
Being interviewed on TV, a young arrogant man on the beach teeming with other students on their spring break a couple of weeks ago, invoked his civil rights to justify his refusal to stay home or do social distancing. Only a brainless, self-centered, inconsiderate individual would think that way. Yes, he had the right to get infected and kill himself, but he did not have the right to infect and kill others. Some of those students later tested positive for COVID-19, and who knows how many dozens, or hundreds, they had transmitted the virus to. This is the major reason why this pandemic has infected and killed so many. This twisted thinking is a graver threat to society and to freedom and democracy than COVID-19.
Can I get the virus from mail and packages?
The SARS-CoV2 virus responsible for COVID-19 pandemic could stay in the air for 2 hours after an infected person sneezes or coughs, and land on surfaces within 10 feet. The virus could be sprayed into the air by talking or breathing, very highly contagious. On copper and wooden surfaces, it stays active for up to 4 hours. On cardboard and paper, this virus could survive up to 24 hours, and about 2-3 days on ATM machines (screen and keypad), likewise on plastic and metal surfaces. All mail and packages go thru dozens of hands before they get to you.
It is best to wear gloves when picking up your mail, or wash your hands well with soap and water, then leave your mail in a box in your garage for one full day. Gloves must likewise be washed with soap and water or peroxide, or 75% alcohol. I purchased UVC lamps about a year ago. I was using it to sterilize rooms and closets. Now, I use it inside our laundry room to sterilize my mail, clothes, masks, caps, gloves, shoes, and practically anything else. UVC lights are routinely used in sterilizing OR, ER, ICU rooms, etc. for more than a century. UVC light is also used to sterilize CPAP mask, tubing, etc., and surgical instruments in hospitals and clinics. The food industry uses it also to sterilize food items before shipping them out.
Can I get infected by touching money?
Most definitely yes, if the paper money and coins have been recently (with 4 hours) touched by a cashier or people who are infected without even knowing they are carriers because they have no symptoms. One of the dirtiest things on earth is money, because is goes from one person to the other, handled by millions, including those with poor personal hygiene. They are loaded with microorganisms. It is best to have the exact amount when you go to drive by burger stands or even in groceries, so they don’t hand you back any change, which could be contaminated. When you use Samsung Pay or Apple Pay, make sure you just hover your phone over the card reader machine and not touch it, or make sure you wipe your cellphone with a disinfectant.
What disinfectants can be used for SARS-CoV2 virus?
For various past viruses and now the COVID-19 virus, the EPA-registered disinfectants used for surfaces, not for the human body, (data updated by EPA April 2, 2020) have in them basic chemicals, like quarternary ammonium, sodium hypochlorite, glycolic acid, L-lactic acid, hydrogen peroxide 3%, and alcohol at least 75%. Most homes have the last two (peroxide, rubbing alcohol) and Clorox (like laundry bleach or swimming pool chlorine). It is best to allow disinfectant to be left on the surface for at least 15 minutes to dry.
Can I make my own disinfectant?
A DIY disinfectant is easy to do. Mix four (4) teaspoon bleach (like chlorine) in a quart of water, or simply use 75% to 91% rubbing alcohol sprayed or wiped directly on surfaces. None of these should be taken or applied on the human body. They are poison.
Will various oils, fruit juices, herbs prevent COVID-19?
No, none of those or any drinks or remedies known to man will prevent COVID-19, except for discipline and practicing the wise strategy of staying home, omitting non-essential travels, social distancing, using masks and gloves when outside, washing hands with soap and warm water frequently, not touching the face, and, as recent news suggests, perhaps using preventive medication like hydroxychloroquine, which is now being tried, would prevent infection with the virus. Beware of scams and scoundrels promising prophylaxis or cure – pills, potion or lotion against COVID-19 – in exchange for your money.
What did you mean with “Fight COVID-19 with COVID”?
We used mnemonic to make the COVID-19 Task Force recommendations easier to remember. We called on society to fight COVID-19 with COVID: Cover face to scratch, sneeze or cough; Omit non-essential travels; Voluntary quarantine; Intensive hand washing; Distancing socially. This DIY strategy needs wisdom, discipline, optimism, sacrifice, patience, and compassion, to lessen the spread, flatten the curve, and end this pandemic much sooner.
Will alcoholic drinks destroy this virus?
No. Most alcoholic beverages have 20 to 50 percent alcohol in them, too low in alcoholic content. However, there are drinks that have more than 75% alcohol in them, and theoretically, could destroy viruses as surface disinfectants: Spyritus Stawski – 96%, Bruichladdich x4 quadrupled whisky – 92%, River Antoine Royale Grenadian Rum – 90%, Hapsburg Gold Label Premium reserve Absinthe – 89.9%, Pincer Shanghai Strength – 88.88%, Valcan 176 Vodka – 88%, Good ol’ Sailor Vodka – 85%, Sunset Rum – 84%, Devil Springs Vodka – 80%, and Bacardi 151 – 75.5%. It is not true that alcoholics or those who imbibe a lot are protected from COVID-19 which does not discriminate. Anyone out in the war zone is a target.
Is the COVID-19 virus hard to `kill’?
No, the SARS-CoV2 virus responsible for COVID-19, is very easy to deactivate and destroy. We cannot kill viruses because they are not alive, as I stated in my column last week. A virus is a protein molecule covered by a protective “envelope” of lipid (fats) all around it. Simple foamy soap and water, preferably warm/hot, destroys the protective fats and DNA of the virus easily and destroy it, and so with those listed disinfectants commonly found at home. Only the carelessness, indifference, arrogance, and stupidity of some of us (and the lack of responsibility and the dishonesty of the Wuhan authorities in China) is the reason why this outbreak in Wuhan turned into an epidemic, then into a devastating pandemic, projected to infect more than 1.5 million and killed greater than 100,000 worldwide.
Are healthcare workers safe from COVID-19?
No one is safe from SARS-CoV2 virus, even the young, much less the overworked, tired, sleep-deprived physicians, nurses and other responders on the front-line of this pandemic, many with inadequate personal protective equipment due to shortage of PPE. If our healthcare workers in the war zone had complete and full battle gear, their safety could be almost 100 percent, not 100% because of human errors or accident under this situation of chaos.
In Spain, about 14% of the COVID-19 deaths are healthcare providers. There are countless other physicians, nurses, allied workers who have died taking care of COVID-29 patients. They are the courageous and admirable front-liners who have put themselves in harm’s way, true to their oath, and brave death to serve their sick fellowmen. They are our wonder heroes, steadfast on the battlefield, in the war zone, where deadly bullets are flying all over, many of them inadequately geared-up. The youngest physician who died from COVID-19 was in her mid-30s. What a tragedy. What a waste.
When all of us, the entire society of man, follow those simple COVID rules with discipline, the viral spread would be effectively controlled, and millions of lives around the world would be saved, including those of our selfless medical saviors, our soldiers on the battlefield.
After COVID-19 is defeated, the World Health Organization and the United Nations must conduct an investigation on the origin and all pertinent mysterious matters surrounding the nCorona virus outbreak in Wuhan, Hubei, China, in order to prevent another global catastrophe, or a worse one, from ever happening.
May God bless and spare our unsung heroes worldwide, because billions of lives around the globe depend on them.
Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, a Cardiac Surgeon Emeritus based in Northwest Indiana and Las Vegas, Nevada, is an international medical lecturer/author, a Health Advocate, and Chairman of the Filipino United Network-USA, a 501(c)3 humanitarian foundation in the United States. Websites: philipSchua.com and FUN8888.com Email: [email protected]