Should you be worried about the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19)? We dive into what the virus means for Singaporeans, necessary precautions to take and how to keep yourself stress-free.
Real talk: The recent coronavirus outbreak has caused quite a stir in the last couple of months, putting Singapore, along with 22 countries, on high alert. So what’s this virus all about? What are some preventive measures we can take? Is there really a reason to panic? We’ve got all the deets.
To put things simply, coronaviruses (CoV) are “a large family of viruses” causing illnesses ranging from your common cold to more severe cases such as pneumonia and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). In 2019, a new coronavirus strain was identified in Wuhan, China. Yup, the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) that we all know of today is the culprit that caused severe pneumonia in China and rapid transmission across the globe. There is no proven specific treatment or anti-viral drug for 2019-nCoV as of now.
How does one get infected and why is it spreading so rapidly?
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), coronaviruses are zoonotic (they can be transmitted between animals and people) but recent reports have shown a risk of human-to-human transmission. Much like the flu, the virus can transfer via close contact (about six feet) with an infected person when they cough or sneeze. It can also spread when you touch your mouth, nose or eyes after touching infected surfaces or objects, as well as by faecal contamination.
What’s the sitch in Singapore?
As of 4 February, the Ministry of Health Singapore (MOH), has reported 24 confirmed cases, four of which are human-to-human transmission in Singapore. This makes Singapore the fourth-highest country in the world to be affected by the virus. But don’t break out in cold sweat just yet. MOH has introduced additional precautionary measures, enhanced environmental cleaning and heightened measures for vulnerable groups including young kids and the elderly.
The symptoms: More common than you think
The symptoms are similar to regular pneumonia and other respiratory illness. It includes a runny nose, sore throat, cough, fever and even shortness of breath for severe cases.
Small measures make all the difference
It’s easy to feel anxious during this trying time, but life has to go on. What we can do, however, is to remain vigilant and take preventive measures. We’ve gathered a list with the help of MOH:
- Avoid contact with live animals, poultry and birds.
- Sushi and sashimi can wait. Avoid consuming raw and undercooked meat.
- Wash your hands frequently with soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers and under your nails. Scrub for 20 seconds or hum the “Happy Birthday” song twice. Dry your hands with a clean towel. Use a hand sanitizer if you can’t wash your hands immediately.
- Avoid crowded places and contact with people who are unwell.
- Down with a fever, cough or the flu? Wear a mask and seek medical attention right away. Psst… there’s no need to wear one if you’re well. Save it for a rainy day. These aren’t our favourite kind of face masks but while we’re on the topic, make sure you get the right type and learn how to use it properly. The government will also be providing masks for every household from now until 9 Feb.
- Cover your mouth with a tissue paper when coughing or sneezing and dispose of the tissue in a rubbish bin immediately.
- Travelled recently? Monitor your health closely for two weeks upon your return. We suggest putting any travel plans (especially to China) on hold until you get the green light from official reports.
Life goes on…
No use panicking over what you can’t control, but what you can do is be good to your gut and boost your immune system by consuming adequate fruits and veggies, slurping up on juices, clocking in enough exercise, getting ample sleep and ensuring a stress-free lifestyle.
If you’re running a temperature, please, please take the day off and stay home – even if you don’t necessarily “feel” sick. Alternatively, for those of you who prefer to avoid crowded areas until things die down, we’ve got plenty of suggestions for you to keep busy at home. Start by ordering your meal in, then catch up on your favourite TV show, spruce up your space with new furniture, lift your mood with aromatherapy, bake that recipe you bookmarked eons ago and treat yourself to some online shopping.
Honestly, it’s pretty straightforward. Outbreak or not, observing basic personal hygiene is key and being socially responsible is pretty obvious. With a little initiative and awareness, we can kick the 2019 novel coronavirus in the butt, fosho! Let’s do this, people!