Wuhan coronavirus flu outbreak has been keeping the world on high alert, with countries such as Singapore, USA, Thailand, Japan, etc having its first confirmed cases of Wuhan virus. What can you do to stay safe and not catch any flu virus during this period?
What face mask is to prevent flu such as Wuhan corona virus? N95 or surgical mask?
A surgical mask is sufficient to protect yourself from catching the flu or other viruses.
Medical staff will prefer to wear N95 masks that filter the air. This is because they work directly with sick patients. They may also wear protective gear such as plastic apron etc.
What is the difference between an N95 mask and a surgical mask?
An N95 mask filters at least 95% of airborne particles and is effective to be used at smoky, hazy, smog conditions. In Singapore and Asia, many people wear N95 during the haze period when forest fires in Indonesia spread the haze around. N95 masks work well to protect against viruses and other forms of sickness. It can be harder to breathe wearing an N95 mask.
A surgical mask has 3 layers. A white absorbent layer that absorbs moisture from your breath, an outer coloured layer that protects against external factors, and in the middle, a filter layer.
For most of us, a surgical mask is sufficient to protect against catch viruses from people who sneeze or cough out.
How do I wear a surgical mask correctly?
- Wash your hands with soap or hand sanitizer before touching the mask
- Remove a mask and check there are no tears or holes in either side.
- The top of the mask is the one with a stiff, bendable edge that is meant to bend to contour around your nose.
- The front of the mask is the coloured side (usually blue or pink) while the side that faces your mouth is white.
- Hold the masks by the ear loops, place each loop over each ear. If it is band or strings, tie it securely over your head.
- Mold or pinch the stiff, bendable edge to contour around your nose.
- Make sure your mask covers your nose and mouth securely.
How to remove a face mask correctly?
- Wash your hands with soap or hand sanitizer before touching the mask.
- Avoid touching the front of the mask, only touch the ear loops or bands.
- Pull the loops and pull the mask away from you. Dispose of it carefully in a rubbish bin.
- Wash your hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer.
What is the Wuhan coronavirus? What flu virus is this?
Firstly, as the World Health Organization (WHO) states:- coronavirus is from a family of flu-like viruses that causes severe respiratory issues. There are 7 known types of coronavirus.
The latest type is known as the 2019-nCoV, which has no official name yet but is now commonly known as the Wuhan virus, after the origin city of Wuhan, China where the first victim fell sick. At first, 2019-nCoV only transmitted via animal to people, and it was suspected the virus started from snakes to people at a wildlife market.
Now, the China authorities has noted that the “Wuhan virus” can be transmitted from human-to-human.
Why is the world so worried about the Wuhan virus? Should I be concerned about the flu?
When SARS happened in Feb 2003, it spread to dozens of countries and killed 774 people. It devastated local economies and created economic hardship for many who suffered the loss of incomes and jobs. People stopped going out, travelling, stop eating out and entertaining and the economies and livelihood of many suffered.
Wuhan virus is found to be even more viral than SARS currently, and now that human-to-human transmission is possible, it is fearful that the virus will continue to mutate and spread even faster.
The good news is that Wuhan coronavirus is not as lethal as SARS, most of the victims that have died from the virus are elderly. The youngest victim is 48 years old.
How is China, WHO, Singapore etc handling the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak? Should I be concerned?
Singapore has its first case and has been isolating the victims. It has set up temperature monitoring at all its entry points such as airports, seaports etc. Checks are especially more stringent for visitors from China.
China, USA, UK, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Romania, Russia, most of EU nations and most major cities have set up temperature monitoring in their airports and have alerted local healthcare services to be cautious and mindful of all flu, feverish cases.
In China, they have locked down Wuhan city and stopped citizens from travelling in or out of Wuhan. The airports, railway stations, bus stations have all ceased. Public transport, gathering and entertainment places are all stopped in Wuhan and other nearby Chinese cities. Even the capital Beijing has cancelled the usual Lunar New Year Spring Festival celebrations to reduce chances of human-to-human transmission.
All these are done to reassure people and to stop any chances of flu outbreak.
What are the signs of infection of Wuhan flu coroavirus? How does the virus spread?
The signs of infection of flu (not just Wuhan virus, but all flu) include cough, fever, breathing difficulties, shortness of breath, respiratory issues. Death has occurred for some elderly that had the flu virus.
All flu virus including the Wuhan virus can be transmitted via coughing, sneezing, personal contact, and fecal contamination.
The World Health Organisation has decided not to declare a public health emergency as the Wuhan virus is still not as lethal, or trasmitting fast to be a big public health emergency.
What should I do to prevent catching the Wuhan Virus?
The most common question is what are the preventive measures we can take to prevent catching Wuhan flu virus:
World Health Organisation recommends the following preventative measures for everyone;
- Wash your hands often with soap and water.
- Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose with your hands.
- Avoid close contact such as shaking hands or touching, with people who are unwell.
- Wear a surgical mask. A surgical mask is sufficient, you should not need to wear a N95 mask.
- Practice cough etiquette (maintain distance if have symptoms, cover coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues or clothing, and wash hands).
- If you have flu-like symptoms, please wear a mask, get yourself to the nearest doctor and check for symptoms.
- Avoiding close contact with live or dead farm or wild animals;
- Avoid travelling to China cities for the time being. (added by us)
If you feel unwell with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, you should
- Seek medical care right away. Before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms;
- Avoid contact with others and not travel while sick;
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing;
- Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer
Health experts have also suggest the public to rest more at home and stay indoor.
Do drink lots of water, eat plenty of vegetables. You can also boost your immunity systems by taking manuka honey for health and other tonics such as prebiotics for healthy digestive and immune system.