A CLEAN and well-ventilated home is the safest sanctuary from the current COVID-19 outbreak that is rapidly spreading around the world, now involving 115 countries (and 2 international conveyances, the Diamond Princess and the Grand Princess Cruise ships), killing more than 4,100 worldwide and now affecting 36 States in the USA. See current statistics below.
The CDC reports that “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. The Influenza B strain virus was at its peak.” The strain B virus is less likely to mutate to become virulent, according to the Mayo Clinic, and older people exposed to before it now carry immunity but children who were never exposed to this strain were more vulnerable. During this season, there were 105 children who died from it.
The CDC report says “the second wave of Flu this year was due to Influenza A, featuring the H1N1 infection that hit the USA, which is at its peak right now…This year the flu vaccine is a pretty good match with major strains around the country; the H1N1 part of the flu is essentially 100 percent match with the circulating strains.”
Black death, Ebola, MERS, SARS
The Black Death (Bubonic plague) pandemic between 1347 and 1351, which originated in China, wiped out 25 million people in Europe. A resurgence in 1661 killed 15 percent of Londoners. Quarantine was “invented” then which saved millions.
Ebola virus was first identified in 1976, hitting a village bordering the Ebola River in the Congo, with mortality rate of 55-60 percent. In 2024-2016, there was an outbreak in West Africa, 28,652 cases with 11,325 deaths. As of July 28, 2019, there were 2,671 cases, with 1,790 deaths from Ebola in the same region.
MERS – Middle East respiratory Syndrome – (started November 2012 Saudi Arabia) had 2,494 Cases with 858 deaths, in 27 countries, 34.4 percent mortality.
SARS – Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome – (started in Guangdong, China November 2002) – 8,437 cases, with 813 deaths, in 26 countries, 9.63 percent mortality.
COVID-19 – novel Corona virus infection – (started in Wuhan, Hubei, China, December 2019), As of March 10, 12:29 PM, GMT, the global stats: 116,059 cases, 4,089 deaths, 64,630 recovered; China, 80,761 cases, 3,136 deaths; Italy (entire country in lock down, self-quarantine), 9,172 cases, 463 deaths; Iran, 8,042 cases, 291 deaths; South Korea, 7513 cases, 54 deaths; USA, 729 cases in 36 States, 27 deaths; and, the Philippines, 33 cases, 1 death. COVID-19 mortality – 2 to 3 percent.
The cases are increasing as you read this. Most of the deaths were elderly seniors with major illnesses like pulmonary disease, diabetes, cardiovascular illnesses, and those with lowered immune system. The number of cases and deaths from the seasonal flu in the USA is much higher compared to the COVID-19 infection. Be calm but be on guard.
The situation stated above is a good reason to practice self-quarantine, whether one has been exposed to an infected person or not. If the probability exists, contact your physician immediately by telephone (Tele-Medicine is now covered by most medical insurance firms).
A clean home is the safest sanctuary in the face of an epidemic or pandemic. Be sure to have adequate supply of water, food, medications, and other necessities. Avoiding non-essential travels, even in your neighborhood or city, is a part of self-quarantine among the unexposed individuals. Those possibly exposed must have total quarantine (away from their healthy family members) and under a TeleMedic supervision. Six US lawmakers who were exposed to one infected case during the CPAC meet have quarantined themselves. Quarantine works!
The CDC has issued an advisory for people to postpone their cruises and non-essential travels. During the plague in Europe, there were towns without cases which had imposed self-quarantine (no in or out) on their own for 40 days (number chosen for religious reason) and this saved millions. Today, we know how long the incubation period is…for prevention and for quarantine purposes too. For COVID-19, extending observation from 14 days to 30 should be conservative (more than) enough.
Last week, our column dealt with FAQs from the World Health organization circulated globally to stem any misinformation or fake news about COVID-19. The perspective above (re: Influenza) is aimed at the same goal: to emphasize medical facts and provide accurate information for public education and safety, and prevent panic.
First and foremost: Do not Panic
1. Stock up on food, water, medications, and other necessities, for at least a couple of months.
2. Eat a healthy diet; get enough sleep and rest.
3. Avoid any behavior or activities that would lower your resistance.
4. Stop smoking and minimize alcohol intake. Do daily exercises.
5. Wash your hands at least 8 times a day, with soap and water for at least 30 seconds, whenever you use your hands, especially in public places. Dry your hands very well, since viruses love moisture, like bacteria, fungus, and molds.
6. Do not touch your face; use facial tissue or towel if you must.
7. Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze.
8. Say “Hi” instead of a handshake; others would prefer this also.
9. Avoid all non-essential travel; a clean home is the safest sanctuary.
10. Regular home and workplace vacuuming and cleaning with vinegar/alcohol, which kill bacteria, viruses, fungi, molds.
11. While masks, even the N95, are not totally effective, wearing one (properly, covering nose and mouth) does not hurt if you are outside, if you feel more secure with one.
12. Avoid being in a crowd, avoid persons who are coughing or sneezing or look sick; to panic is counter-productive and unhealthy; being a little paranoid (call it vigilance) might be beneficial.
13. Do not touch public doorknobs, handrails, any surface with your bare hands; wash your, even after touching money, an item that passed through countless thousands of germ-loaded hands.
14. Carry disinfectant wipes or gel or liquid in with you. Wipe handle of grocery carts and other objects before touching them.
15. If not feeling well, especially with fever or cough, do not go to the emergency room or to your doctor’s office. Instead, call your physician without delay and quarantine yourself. Early diagnosis and treatment are vital.
Prevention, as with any other infectious diseases, is the vital key in our battle with COVID-19 and most diseases. With it goes discipline, equanimity, practical wisdom, awareness of the environment, and vigilance.
Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, a Cardiac Surgeon Emeritus based in Northwest Indiana and Las Vegas, Nevada, is an international medical lecturer/author, 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]