I know many of you are thumbing your noses at recent news and believe COVID-19 is hyped and overblown. I came back from somewhere near the epicenter of the outbreak (Beijing, China) five weeks ago, and I’ve been isolating myself at home1 ever since (strictly for the first three weeks, most of the time these two weeks). Luckily I’m very well at present, but the fear is lingering. I should say this disease is not like a common flu, and I suggest all of us avoid crowds and cancel gatherings of all kinds. Hamilton has seen the first positive case, which may well be just the tip of the iceberg.
Several facts about the novel coronavirus:
- Fatalities can be young or old, and the old are just comparatively susceptible. I’ve known a bunch of guys (friends’ acquaintances) aged 21-39 that have succumbed to this disease.
Any damage to the lungs will remain; it is irrevocable for life, although symptoms can be treated and finally disappear.
The virus attacks testicles as well and thus affects fertility in men.
The virus can spread from one person to another within 15 seconds when both of them stand close, wearing no face mask and protective goggle.
The virus can survive several days on hard surfaces.
About half of the carriers do not have symptoms but are able to spread the virus. A few of them may turn out super spreaders.
Depending on techniques, patients may need to take more than one test to know if they are really infected. So those who are tested negative at first and take no further test (pseudonegative cases) may still help spread the virus.
What I saw and learned during my stay and on my trips:
- Every single passenger aboard was wearing face masks; some even avoided eating all the way (13 hours flight) so that they wouldn’t have to take off the masks or go to the toilet, which was highly dangerous.
Streets were almost empty. All restaurants, cinemas and business venues were closed.
All residents stayed indoors in quarantine. Some communities issued them daily passes and only allowed one person per household per day to come out for shopping groceries, of course with a face mask on. (Yes, bare faces would be considered stupid and denied entrance anywhere.)
Most buses and subways stopped service. A few still in service could expect hardly any passenger.
Clinics, hospitals, and pharmacies became the most dangerous places as patrons might be carriers.
Beijing (population: 23 million) only had some 80 cases when I left. But they were doing all the above to help stop the virus.
Besides, governments (as well as WHO) are not always reliable. They have various reasons to understate the severity or try to cover it up. Some medical workers are still ill-informed in some ways. Yet we only live once. Proactivity is still important.
Be alert2 and stay healthy!