Categories
Science

How hand washing with soap & water kills the SARS-CoV-2

The inevitable has happened, there are now 24 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Philippines and as I write this, the World Health Organization is on the brink of calling the outbreak a pandemic.

You may have doubts or misgivings about our own Department of Health, but they are still the best source of information about COVID-19 cases in the Philippines. Sharing unverified information via social media only helps to fuel panic and paranoia which could worsen the outbreak for all of us.

With the virus spreading locally, it’s important that we do our share to help contain or minimize its spread. You’ve often heard from medical professionals, government officials, your HR folk, the World Health Organization and media that one of the most effective ways to fight the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 is by frequent hand washing with soap and water. How so? It’s all rooted in the morphology or physical characteristics of the coronavirus. See the illustration below:

Coronavirus is a type of “enveloped” virus which means its core genetic material is surrounded by a membrane. That membrane, encircled in the image above, is called a lipid bilayer or two layers of phospholipids.

By Bensaccount – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Lipid_bilayer_section.gif, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2929946

Lipid is a molecule that is like fat. Since soaps dissolve fat, washing your hands with soap and water for a sufficient amount of time, experts say singing “Happy birthday” twice does the trick, dissolves that lipid bilayer envelope of the coronavirus which in turn destroys the virus itself. This simple practice is very effective against germs, that’s why you often see surgeons spending a great deal of time thoroughly scrubbing their hands with soap and water before and after a surgery as shown in popular TV shows like Grey’s Anatomy or The Good Doctor.

So let’s do our part, frequently wash our hands with soap and water to keep it clean and fight off nasty germs like the coronavirus. Remember, before and after eating, wash your hands. After using the toiltet, wash your hands. Just got home from work or outside, wash your hands before touching anything else or your loved ones.

It cannot be overstated: wash your hands with soap and water.

Categories
Daily dose

How vulnerable am I to the COVID-19?

The SARS-CoV-2 continues to spread throughout the world and there’s now talk of the COVID-19 reaching pandemic levels. It’s not going to be the end of the world or the start of a zombie breakout but one cannot avoid getting anxious. I myself have been worrying ever since reading about it back in December last year. Primarily because I have not been of the greatest of health; underweight, prone to allergic rhinitis which would easily develop into upper respiratory infection. That alone is enough to make life very hard for at least a couple of weeks until it gets resolved. To top it all off, I work in an office building where there’s a lot of foreign nationals on a daily basis.

So the worry is real. Thankfully most of the answers to the question in the title of this post, can be found on an article by Dr Edsel Maurice Salvaña, M.D., DTM&H, FPCP, FIDSA on Esquire Magazine:

Early data is showing that about 80% of people who get sick with COVID-19 will develop only mild symptoms, while 20% can develop more severe disease. The ones at highest risk for a bad outcome are the elderly and those with chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, and lung disease. A greater percentage of men compared with women with COVID-19 have died in China, and this may have been partly because more males smoke in China. Protecting your loved ones means avoiding unnecessary travel and practicing social distancing. Elderly people should avoid crowds and crowded places. Make sure everyone’s vaccinations for influenza and bacterial pneumonia are up to date since these can prove fatal if they occur at the same time as a COVID-19 infection. Now is also the best time to stop smoking.

Dr Edsel Maurice Salvaña, M.D. A Coronavirus Pandemic Isn’t the End of the World

I may not be young anymore but certainly not too old to be considered an ‘elderly’ just yet. Heart disease and diabetes free. However, I do have a history of lung disease and that’s where the worry really comes from. On the other hand some level of comfort comes from the fact that I don’t smoke cigarettes and having been on a drinking hiatus since last October, my exposure to second-hand smoke has been practically eliminated.

The real trick now is to keep my self in better health. Wash my hands more often and minimize travel. I even started to use my elbows in pushing the elevator buttons and consciously avoid touching door handles and the overhead bar at jeepneys.

In addition, I regularly keep myself updated with news & information about the COVID-19 from credible sources. Hopefully it would be enough to be spared from this disease along with my family. Hoping even more that a local outbreak would not happen even though the recent moves of the government in response to SARS-CoV-2 spread does not inspire confidence and even adds to our worries, there’s only so much that we can do.

Categories
Science

Novel coronavirus 2019 disease & virus gets official names

Two official names have been made public today in relation to the on-going pandemic, yes I said it, of novel coronavirus: the disease and the virus that causes it.

As per the World Health Organization:

For the virus:

Similar to how one should distinguish the AIDS (disease) from HIV (virus). With the official names now available, research and news reporting would be much clearer.

So let’s recap: the disease is called Coronavirus Disease-19 or COVID-19 and the virus is called severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).

Categories
Daily dose

How the novel coronavirus outbreak gave birth to #OustDuterte

A lot has happened in the past month since the world learned of the 2019 novel coronavirus that started an outbreak in the city of Wuhan in China’s Hubei province. As of this writing, figures from the WHO are as follows:

Globally
11953 confirmed (2128 new)
China
11821 confirmed (2102 new)
1795 severe (268 new)
259 deaths (46 new)
Outside of China
132 confirmed (26 new)
23 countries (4 new)

Novel Coronavirus(2019-nCoV) Situation Report – 12 as of Feb 1, 2020

In the Philippines, the numbers from the Department of Health as summarized below:

DOH tracker of novel coronavirus cases in the Philippines

The first fatality in the Philippines also earned the distinction as the first one outside of China: 44-year old male who was the companion of the first patient, 38-year old female to have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Both were tourists from Wuhan arriving at Cebu via Cebu Pacific flight 5J 241 (Hong Kong-Cebu) and DG 6519 (Cebu-Dumaguete) last Jan. 21, 2020. From Cebu, they then took a flight to Manila on January 25, 2020 via Philippine Airlines. Both airlines have pulled out the actual planes boarded by the tourists for disinfection and have had their cabin crews and pilots screened for the the coronavirus. They are also working with health authorities in tracking down and contacting the other passengers who sat nearby the two tourists.

For some measure of relief, 24 persons under investigation have tested negative for the novel coronavirus.

On January 31, the WHO declared the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern. In response, neighboring countries like Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Mongolia and Russia have declared travel restrictions on passengers from China. Meanwhile, here in the Philippines, all the government did was declare a travel restriction only to passengers coming form Hubei province where the epicenter of the of outbreak is. This slow response and deference to ‘avoiding the ire of Beijing‘ sparked public outrage that made #OustDuterte a top trending topic on Twitter.

Which was no surprise considering that on that same day, still active Presidential-aide turned Senator Christopher Go stated that President Duterte would meet have a meeting with heath experts and government officials to deal with the outbreak NEXT WEEK! Adding insult to injury, Presidential Spokesperson followed up with a statement that for Duterte, “weekends are sacred” and that he “likes to sleep long.

The response of the administration’s supporters was not totally unexpected: the deployment of online trolls and bot farms with a different, albeit hypocritical narrative: an appeal for sympathy for our Chinese brethren and that a travel ban smacks of racism:

Be careful with sharing the sob stories you read surrounding current events. Some of them are fake/propaganda…

Posted by Martin Luke Lastrilla Patiño on Friday, January 31, 2020

This quickly backfired as netizens used the troll’s message as a template to further mock and throw shade against the administration:

I'm sad. We have Chinese neighbors sa condo, and just now may nakasabay kaming babae (Chinese) with 2 kids. Ang sabi nya…

Posted by Rafael Antonio Anton Dulce on Saturday, February 1, 2020

There are a lot more of these and quite sure you’ve seen either type or both on your newsfeed. The key takeaway is this, at the very least the Duterte administration is sensitive to public opinion.