It has been an atypical Chinese New Year where instead of greeting friends and families with Kung Hei Fat Choy, we wish each other good health and to stay clear of the coronavirus. With the mounting concerns on the deadly new virus and with no proven treatment, it is ever so true that prevention is better than hoping for a cure under the current circumstances.
In order to prevent the infection, let’s understand how the novel coronavirus is being transmitted:
1. Transmission via droplets
Facts: When a person coughs or sneezes, he produces virus-loaded water particles (or droplets) which can travel in the air for a distance of 2 to 6 metres and stay airborne for up to 10 minutes.
Prevention: One may become infected if he is in close contact with an infected person who is producing these water particles or droplets. Wearing a surgical mask can prevent these droplets from entering your nose and mouth and is a recommended measure for community prevention.
2. Indirect transmission
Facts: The virus-carrying droplets will eventually rest on a surface such as the floor or table, and they may stay viable for up to 48 hours. Also, handrails and door knobs are high risk because they are touched by different people all day long. Droplets may therefore be found on these frequently handled objects.
Prevention: People may contact the virus by touching objects which were previously contacted by infected people. If a person subsequently touches one’s eyes, nose or mouth without first cleaning their hands, one may get infected. Proper hand hygiene is therefore important. Please, use water and hand soap or alcohol hand rub to clean your hands.
Watch this video by the Centre for Health Protection to see how to clean hands properly:
3. Transmission via faeces
Facts: Recent evidence suggests that the virus may also be found in the faeces of infected people.
1. Refrain from using public toilets whenever possible.
2. Always close the toilet lid before flushing.
3. Remember to fill the u-tube of the bathroom drains with 500cc of water each week to prevent it from drying out.
The prevention of coronavirus infection starts with each and every one of us; exercising good personal hygiene is the best defense.
Dr Alexander Chiu, Medical Director, Health and Employee Benefits, AXA Hong Kong and Macau