Coronavirus Outbreak: How to Protect Yourself & Others from Getting Sick

Coronavirus Outbreak: How to Protect Yourself & Others from Getting Sick

What Do We Know About the Wuhan Coronavirus?

On 31 December 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) was alerted to several cases of pneumonia in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China. Little did we know, the virus spread raised concerns because it did not match any other known virus, and they did not know how it affects people.

On 7 January, the Chinese authorities confirmed that they had identified a new virus which is a coronavirus. The virus is traced back to the family of viruses that include the common cold, and viruses such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). Hence, this new virus was named 2019-nCoV for now.

The virus has in a matter of weeks killed more than 80 people and infected some 2,740 in China, while cases have been identified in more than a dozen other countries. (AFP)

Since then, WHO has been working with the authorities and experts from all around the world to learn more about the epidemic virus on how they spread, how they can be treated, and what countries can do to respond.

“Understanding the time when infected patients may transmit the virus to others is critical for control efforts,” WHO said.

The Big Question: Will Wearing a Mask Help to Reduce the Spreading of the Disease? Should I Get N95 mask or Surgical Mask?

According to the Ministry of Health Singapore, masks are generally not needed for people who are well. However, If you are unwell, you should wear a surgical mask as it will help reduce the spread of the virus.

It is also more practical to use a surgical mask as compared to an N95 mask. Surgical masks can help block large-particle droplets and splatter from reaching the wearer’s mouth and nose, hence reducing the exposure of the wearer’s saliva and respiratory secretions to others. N95 masks which are tighter fitting, are not recommended as they would make it difficult for people to breathe in if they are worn properly.

Because this is a coronavirus which commonly causes respiratory disease, we have compiled the advice to people on how to protect themselves and others from verified sources of WHO and the Ministry of Health Malaysia & Singapore.

1. Wash Your Hands

Always clean hands with soap and water. It is also advisable to carry alcohol-based rub along with you and use them as necessary. Our hands can easily transmit the virus via direct contact. Therefore, whether it’s after coughing / sneezing, when caring for the sick, after toilet use, after handling animals or animal waste, always remember to keep them clean.


2. Practice Food Safety

When it comes to food, remember to thoroughly cook meat and eggs before consumption. It is also advisable to use different chopping boards and knives for raw meat and cooked foods. This is because any viruses that inhabit in raw meat may be passable to our kitchen tools, and even to our naked hands. Any sick animals or animals that have died of diseases should also not be consumed.


3. Avoid Unprotected Contact with Live Wild or Farm Animals

This is probably not a good time for a visit to the farm or zoo. Chances are these (poor) animals may or may not host these viruses, especially the wild animals or stray cats and dogs. And if for some reason you were in contact with them, avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth.


4. Avoid close contact with anyone with cold / flu-like symptoms

You must keep a distance from anyone that has cold / flu-like symptoms, no matter how trivial it looks. However, if you happen to inhabit those symptoms, immediately seek advice from a medical practitioner and cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze.


Stay healthy yourself, around others, and while travelling!