HERE are some medical facts and practical do-it-yourself measures to ward off the COVID-19 infection that is now a serious pandemic.
CAVEAT: A clean, well-ventilated home is our safest sanctuary. Self-quarantine of everyone around the world will help end this pandemic much sooner. Wisdom and a healthy dose of rational fear and paranoia (medical vigilance) will also be beneficial for safety.
Is COVID-19 worse than the flu?
As far as the number of cases and mortality rates are concerned, COVID-19, as of March 17, 2020, 12:23 a.m., GMT, there were 186,996 cases worldwide, with 7,477 deaths in 162 countries. China – 80,881 cases, deaths – 3,226; Italy – 27,980, deaths – 80,881, deaths – 2158; Iran – 16,169, deaths – 988; Spain – 11,279, deaths – 497; US – (49 States and DC) – 4,743 cases, deaths – 93; Philippines, 187, deaths – 12.
According to the US-CDC report, “during the 2019-2020 flu season in the USA, more than 26 million have fallen ill with the regular flu, 250,000 hospitalized, and 4,000 died.” These medical data will keep the situation in its proper perspective and prevent panic and chaos, but we must, nonetheless, be ever vigilant and not let down our guard, and adjust/modify our behavior and habits accordingly. As we now know, COVID-19 could be deadly.
Why are people very scared of this pandemic?
It is normal for people to be scared of the unknown. SARS-CoV2 is a new virus we do not know and for which we do not have immunity, nor a vaccine nor a cure. Vaccine for the flu does not work for COVID-19. Officially the infection has been designated as COVID-19, the “19” referring to the year it was first detected in Wuhan, Hubei, China. Since the virus is transmitted by respiratory droplets from sneezes and coughs of infected persons, it is easily transmitted to another person (within 4-6 feet), and spreads very fast. Again, a clean well-ventilated home is our safest sanctuary. Self-quarantine of everyone around the world will help end this pandemic much sooner. A healthy dose of rational fear and paranoia (medical vigilance) will also be beneficial for safety.
Do masks work?
A bit of good news: A study in Singapore among health care providers showed that regular surgical masks and the superior N95 model both appear to prevent getting COVID-19. But, obviously, for those not providing medical care, it is best to stay home, the less exposure to the outside, the safer. Why even risk it?
Can I catch the virus from touching objects, surfaces?
The SARS-CoV2 virus is suspected to survive on surfaces between a few hours up to 9 days. According to CDC, touching packages, letters, other objects from China is safe; “transmissibility of coronaviruses from contaminated surfaces to hands were not found. However, it could be shown with influenza A virus that a contact of 5 [seconds] can transfer 31.6% of the viral load to the hands.” More precise data would be forthcoming as scientists learn more about this virus. Again, washing hands after touching any object with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, and drying them well, is essential. If water is not available, hand sanitizers would be a good temporary option.
I have no symptoms, could I get tested?
The test is recommended for those with symptoms and those who have or may have been exposed to infected persons. COVID-19 testing kits are in great demand and the needs for those who are exposed or with symptoms are still hardly met, just like the masks, so we must all exercise medical wisdom and compassion for those who need the test more urgently. Testing the entire population of any city or country is not medically sound nor practical, nor wise, and only a massive waste of resources, with minimal returns. On the other hand, testing ALL suspects and symptomatic individuals, as many as possible, would certainly prevent the further spread of COVID-19 and help end this tragedy sooner.
Who should be quarantined?
Those who have tested positive and those who have been exposed, or if in doubt, should be quarantined. In fighting infectious diseases, isolation is effective in preventing spread, as history has proven, that is why testing is most crucial. Among the non-exposed individuals, we could all practice DIY voluntary preventive measures like disciplined self-isolation (staying home, avoiding non-essential travels even in our own town); washing our hands and face often; not touching our face; greeting with a “Hi” instead of a handshake; not touching door knobs, handrails, counters, surfaces with our bare hands; avoiding crowds; and, distancing ourselves from people, especially those who cough or look sickly. Repeat: A clean, well-ventilated home is our safest sanctuary. Self-quarantine of everyone around the world will help end this pandemic much sooner. A healthy dose of rational fear and paranoia (medical vigilance) will also be beneficial for safety.
Do sesame oil, coconut oil, olive oil, kill the virus?
No, there is no evidence that any of these oils or any salve, liniment, cream, or ointment kill the SARS-CoV2 virus. Vinegar (acetic acid, 5%) and alcohol (at least 60%) are good disinfectants for countertops and other surfaces, but not for skin application. Lysol and chlorine (bleach) solutions are also effective but toxic to humans for long-term use. Eating garlic, herbs, alcohol body rub (dangerously toxic), gurgling solutions of any kind do not prevent COVID-19. Self-quarantine at home is a most effective DIY preventive strategy whether one has been exposed, with or without symptoms, or not exposed at all and healthy.
Does handwashing really protect us?
A 20-second handwash with soap and water, done several times a day, will greatly protect people from getting infected. Handwashing frequently after waking up, going to the bathroom, before and after eating, is an essential habit to develop, even in the absence of any epidemic or pandemic. It is most important to DRY your hands after washing, because viruses, bacteria, fungus, and mold all love moisture.
Does UV light kill viruses?
The UV-C light (not UV-A and UV-B) is used routinely in hospitals for sterilizing empty rooms (operating room, ICU, etc.) and in medical/dental offices to sterilize instruments. UV lights in general are harmful to the skin and the eyes. UV-C SterileTote is available at [email protected]. This zippered bag is used to sterilize CPAP mask, tubing, children’s bib, toys, cellphones, tablets, toothbrush, combs, and any item that would fit in the bag, which automatically shuts off in 5 minutes. It is an excellent device for homes in our battle against germs. Columbia University lab is developing a “far-UVC” lamp that is not harmful to humans and pets, which could be used anywhere, like a mosquito zapper lamp, to sterilize rooms daily even with people in them.
Does blood transfusion help?
Injecting the processed blood serum of survivors of COVID-19 (loaded with antibodies against SARS-CoV2 virus) into newly-infected persons and those high-risk individuals to boost their immunity and ability to fight COVID-19, is being investigated now. The rapidly developed new US vaccine against COVID-19 is wonderful news.
Should China be held accountable for this pandemic?
The Black Death (bubonic plague) in Europe (1347 to 1351), which killed 25 million people, originated from China. The SARS pandemic (November 2002) which infected 26 countries and killed 815, came from Guangdong, China. And now the COVID-19 from Wuhan. There are stories circulating on the internet that the SARS-CoV2 virus probably came from the communist-controlled bio-lab near Wuhan and that a young healthy Chinese physician who worked with the whistleblower in Wuhan, who wanted to warn the world about the nCorona virus infection, was silenced and punished by powers in that sector of China, and later suspiciously “died” of COVID-19.
The weeks of delay in the official announcement of the massive epidemic in China made on Dec. 31, 2019 (lately discovered the first case was on Nov. 17, 2019) and China’s obvious intentional lack of transparency and cover-up, has enabled the virus to spread worldwide into a ruinous pandemic. Whether those claims are true or not, and notwithstanding their veracity, it behooves the World Health Organization and the United Nations to conduct a thorough study on China’s health system and all the issues surrounding this COVID-19 pandemic, which has so far killed almost 180,000 people, devastated businesses and national economies in 162 countries, and painfully disrupted billions of lives around the globe.
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 Public Health Advocate, and Chairman of the Filipino United Network-USA, a 501(c)3 humanitarian foundation in the United States. Websites: philipSchua.com and FUN888.com Email: [email protected]