What is the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)?

At The LifeCo Phuket, Thomas Lodi, MD, MD (H) answers some of the most commonly asked questions regarding the recent events of 2019 novel coronavirus (2019 nCoV) for us.

2019 novel coronavirus is a very mild virus, and it only has a 2% mortality rate at this point. When we consider Influenza, which has a 10-15% or even 20% death rate, it is a considerably greater danger. In the US this year, 10.000 people have died already, and we are not talking about it.

So, is 2019 nCoV a death sense? Clearly not. People affected by the novel virus are actually the same people that have died from Influenza or almost any viral infection. These are people who are immunocompromised. What do we mean by that? People who have untreated HIV (if you are treated with HIV, then it means that your immune system is capable of repairing itself now), people who have cancer, older people or any young children who had immunocompromised conditions.

So, the average person is not at risk.

What to do when you travel?

If you feel comfortable while wearing a mask, you can wear it. You should get the face masks that can help filter out the fine particles. According to WHO, if you are feeling fine, then you don’t have put a mask, only if you are taking care of a person with suspected 2019-nCoV infection. However, you should wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing. Also, whether you wear or not frequent hand-cleaning with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water is essential.

What would be more important is to do a few things to boost your immune system like getting Vitamin C.

You can get vitamin C in oral form from any drug store. Make sure when you buy Vitamin C that you only need Vitamin C1. It would be best if you got some pure version of Vitamin C, from 1000 to 2000 mg five times a day. The other thing I recommend is 30 mg Zinc three times a day.

Get a Mixed Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Zinc

Another vitamin you can take to promote your immune system is Vitamin A. Vitamin A contains carotenoid, and the word carrot comes from carotenoid. We usually think of beta-carotene, but there are other carotenes like alpha or gamma, you must get a mixed carotenoid. You can get a mixed Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Zinc. Take those while you travel and make sure you get to sleep early. If you are on vacation or travelling, you probably overeat and maybe drink some alcohol. I would advise you to do that in moderation during this period.

Even if you found yourself at a party, you eat and drink too much; get enough sleep and do not repeat it the next day.

Does Wearing a Mask Help?

I have been to the airport recently, and only 2 or 3 people were not wearing masks, everyone has masks. But it is questionable whether wearing masks help or not. If you understand how small these viruses are, they are only 20 to 400 nm, that is smaller than the dust particulars. It may help you to some degree, but again it is not protecting you. As I mentioned before, wearing a mask is recommended when you are taking care of a person infected with the novel coronavirus. What you need to be protected is to have a strong immune system. If you are frequently travelling and you would feel better by wearing a mask, you can wear a mask. But considering what we know about flu and cold, these viruses spread by droplet, so unless someone infected with a virus on each other’s faces, you don’t get infected. Most of the time, people cover-up their mouth while sneezing and coughing. 

There has been a lot of studies over the years where they get a group of families in a school district, have them wash their hands 5-10 times a day, and they contracted with viruses much less than the other families. What happens is you cough on your hands, then you touch someone or somewhere, shake people’s hand, and that is the way viral infections spread. When you contact with surfaces which can be contaminated with the virus or shake hands with someone infected, then touch your eyes, nose or mouth with your contaminated hands, you can transfer the virus to yourself.

If you prefer wearing a mask anyway, you should keep in mind that avoid touching the mask while using it; if you do so, wash your hands with soap and water or rub them with an alcohol-based sanitizer.

 

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