How does coronavirus really spread and should you avoid public places? What’s the stance on hand sanitisers versus anti-bacterial wipes?
As featured on gov.sg, Dr Leong Hoe Nam, an infectious disease specialist in Singapore helps to clear the air about our doubts over the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation.
Get the facts on COVID-19 right
1. COVID-19 is airborne
Contrary to what most people think, COVID-19 is not carried by air. Similar to the regular cold viruses or influenza, COVID-19 spreads primarily through respiratory droplets.
2. The symptoms of COVID-19 is different from the regular flu
Some of the symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, sore throat, cough and headache, which are very similar to influenza and the regular cold. Thus, it is very difficult to tell from the onset of what a person is experiencing if it is one or the other.
3. It is possible to contract COVID-19 from a person who is not showing symptoms
People with no symptoms might not have nasal discharge or cough. Thus, they are less likely to transmit the virus. In this regard, the actual risk of infection is assumed to be very low.
4. You should avoid going to public spaces such as hawker centres and food courts
Upon the onset of a communal spread, you do not necessarily have to avoid places you go to, to get your food and grocery supply. However, take note not to loiter too.
Go out and do what is needed, then head back home to avoid prolonged exposure.
5. You should not handle common objects like money
There’s no reason to avoid handling common objects when there is a need to. Just be sure to wash your hands with soap and water after that and avoid touching your face.
6. It is best to avoid places that confirmed/suspect cases have been to
There’s no need to avoid those places as they would have been cleaned and disinfected thoroughly, making them one of the cleanest spots in Singapore. You can rest assured that the relevant authorities such as the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources and NEA are closely keeping tabs that cleaning processes are carried out as per the recommended guidelines.
7. Your online packages from China are breeding grounds for the virus
Fret not – when the packages travel (yes, even through Wuhan, the COVID-19 epicentre), the long process and exposure to the sun would have destroyed the virus.
The life span of coronaviruses has been known to be shortened when exposed to high temperatures.
8. You should avoid taking public transport and private hire cars/taxis
Extra measures have been put in place to ensure that all forms of public transport such as buses and MRTs are cleaned and disinfected daily to avoid the spread of the virus.
As for private hire cars and taxis, do request for the windows to be wound down. This allows the air to move in and out of the vehicle which would quickly dilute the virus, making it negligible. Drivers are also equipped with packs of face masks which they can offer to unwell passengers who need them.
9. It is worrying to live near a quarantine site
If you are worried about the virus circulating in your neighbourhood, do remember that the virus can only spread by respiratory droplets and does not go into the air. Since it is not airborne, you cannot breathe it in.
10. Anti-bacterial wipes and hand sanitisers are just as effective in protecting us from the virus
You are bound to touch your eyes, nose or mouth, even with a mask on. That is why it’s important to keep your hands clean to protect yourself from the virus.
If it is not possible to wash your hands with soap and water, hand sanitisers with a minimum of 60% alcohol content can help to do the job in the meantime. Do ensure that you dry them thereafter. However, anti-bacterial wipes are not recommended as they tend to spread germs around, especially when they are used to wipe down surfaces before you wipe your hands.
Check out this video for more insights from Dr Leong Hoe Nam on Coronavirus:
We hope that the information above has helped to put things straight when it comes to COVID-19 as well as shed light on the dos and don’ts. Wishing you and your family the best of health amidst this global epidemic.
The information in this article is courtesy gov.sg.