Your COVID-19 queries

FOLLOWING our columns about COVID-19 the past several weeks in this paper since the Wuhan outbreak, we received dozens of questions from our readers, which we have organized, consolidated, and answered below:

I am confused, mask or no mask?

If you do not have to go out, stay home, which is the safest sanctuary from any outbreak, epidemic or pandemic. This will prevent you from being exposed and become a carrier who can infect countless people, geometrically, and rapidly, including your family. If you have to go to the grocery, drug store, etc., wear a mask, covering nose and mouth, a cap, large goggle on top of your prescription glasses, and gloves.

When you get back home, wash all these in your garage with soap and warmest tolerable water. Wash your hands and face in your bathroom or take a shower. Some people use two cotton ball plugs for their nose underneath their mask. The visit to the grocery/drug store, etc., should be as short as possible. Again, masks are protective, not only for you but for others too, on top of social distancing of at least 6 feet and good hygiene. Since the Wuhan epidemic, as early as February 7, we have been advocating the use of masks and gloves. The authorities finally recommended everybody to wear a mask when outside.

Do people have the right to stay out and enjoy life?

Being interviewed on TV, a young arrogant man on the beach teeming with other students on their spring break a couple of weeks ago invoked his civil rights to justify his refusal to stay home or do social distancing. Only a brainless, self-centered, inconsiderate individual would think that way and be reckless. Yes, he had the right to get infected and kill himself, but he did not have the right to infect and kill others. Some of those students later tested positive for COVID-19 and, who knows, how many dozens or hundreds they had transmitted the virus to. This is the major reason why this pandemic has infected and killed so many. This twisted thinking is a graver threat to society and to freedom and democracy than COVID-19.

Can I get the virus from mail and packages?

The SARS-CoV2 virus responsible for COVID-19 pandemic, can stay in the air for 2 hours after an infected person sneezes or coughs, and land on surfaces within 10 feet. The virus could be sprayed into the air by talking or breathing, and highly contagious. On copper and wooden surfaces, it stays active for up to 4 hours. On cardboard and paper, this virus could survive up to 24 hours, about 2-3 days on ATM machines (screen and keypad) and likewise on plastic and metal surfaces.

All mail and packages go through dozens of hands before they get to you. It is best to wear gloves when picking up your mail, or wash your hands well with soap and water, then leave your mail in a box in your garage for one full day. Gloves must likewise be washed with soap and water or peroxide, or 75% alcohol. I purchased UVC lamps about a year ago. I was using it to sterilize rooms and closets. Now, I use it inside our laundry room to sterilize my mail, clothes, masks, caps, gloves, shoes, and practically anything else. UVC lights have been routinely used in sterilizing OR, ER, ICU rooms, etc. for more than a century. UVC light is also used to sterilize CPAP mask, tubing, etc., and surgical instruments in hospitals and clinics. The food industry uses it also to sterilize food items before shipping them out.

Can I get infected by touching money?

Most definitely yes, if the paper money and coins have been recently (with 4 hours) touched by a cashier or people who are infected without even knowing they are carriers because they have no symptoms. One of the dirtiest things on earth is money because it goes from one person to the other, handled millions of times, including by those with poor personal hygiene. They are loaded with microorganisms. It is best to have the exact amount when you go to drive-by burger stands or even in groceries, so they don’t hand you back any change which could be contaminated.

What disinfectants can be used for SARS-CoV2 virus?

Three more popular EPA-registered disinfectants are Clorox, alcohol at least 75%, and peroxide 3%. Most homes have these. It is best to allow the disinfectant to be left on the surface for at least 15 minutes to dry. A DIY disinfectant is easy to do. Mix four (4) teaspoon bleach (like chlorine) in a quart of water, or simply use 75% to 91% rubbing alcohol sprayed or wiped directly on surfaces. None of these should be taken or applied on the body. They are poisons.

Is vinegar useful as disinfectant?

Vinegar is good for cleaning but NOT for sterilizing. Surfaces cleaned with cooking vinegar will have much lesser bacteria. For cleaning, mix 1 part vinegar and 4 parts water. To clean vegetables, 4 tbsp of vinegar in 1 gallon of water may be used. Half a cup or one cup of vinegar into the kitchen sink drain once every two weeks will deodorize it. Orange peel or lemon peel will also help. Vinegar will not be effective for the SARS-CoV2 virus.

Will various oils, fruit juices, herbs, prevent COVID-19?

No, none of those or any drinks or remedies known to man will prevent nor cure COVID-19, except for discipline and practicing the wise strategy of staying home, omitting non-essential travels, social distancing, using masks and gloves when outside, washing hands with soap and warm water frequently, not touching the face, and, as recent news suggests, perhaps using preventive medication like hydroxychloroquine, which is now being tried, would prevent infection with the virus. Beware of scams and scoundrels promising prophylaxis or cure – pills, potion or lotion against COVID-19 – in exchange for your money.

Will alcoholic drinks destroy this virus?

Most alcoholic beverages have 20 to 50 percent alcohol in them, too low in alcoholic content. However, there are drinks that have more than 75% alcohol in them, and theoretically, could destroy viruses: Spyritus Stawski – 96%; Bruichladdich x4 quadrupled whisky – 92%; River Antoine Royale Grenadian Rum – 90%; Hapsburg Gold Label Premium reserve Absinthe – 89.9%; Pincer Shanghai Strength – 88.88%; Valcan 176 Vodka – 88%; Good ol’ Sailor Vodka – 85%; Sunset Rum – 84%; Devil Springs Vodka – 80%; and Bacardi 151 – 75.5%. The ten drinks sound like they will also kill the drinker besides the virus, and faster. Seriously, alcoholics or those who imbibe a lot are not immune to COVID-19 or any viral infection.

What did you mean with “Fight COVID-19 with COVID”?

We used mnemonic to make the COVID-19 Task Force recommendations easier to remember. We called on society to fight COVID-19 with COVID: Cover face to scratch, sneeze or cough; Omit non-essential travels; Voluntary quarantine; Intensive hand washing; Distancing socially. This DIY strategy needs wisdom, discipline, optimism, sacrifice, patience, and compassion, to lessen the spread, flatten the curve, and end this pandemic much sooner. We are now nearing that final spike.

Is the COVID-19 virus hard to “kill”?

No, the SARS-CoV2 virus responsible for COVID-19, is very easy to deactivate and destroy. We cannot kill viruses because they are not alive, as I stated in my column last week. A virus is a protein molecule covered by a protective “envelope” of lipid (fats) all around it. Simple foamy soap and water, preferably warm/hot, destroy the protective fats and DNA of the virus easily and destroy it, and so with those listed disinfectants commonly found at home. Only the carelessness, indifference, arrogance, and stupidity of some of us (and the lack of responsibility and the dishonesty of the Wuhan authorities in China) are the reasons why this outbreak in Wuhan turned into an epidemic, then into a devastating pandemic that is projected to infect more than 1.5 million and kill almost 100,000 worldwide before it is wiped out.
Are healthcare workers more vulnerable to COVID-19?

Yes, because they are on the front lines, dealing with COVID-19 patients. They are over-worked, tired, sleep-deprived, stressed out physicians, nurses and other responders, many of them with inadequate personal protective equipment due to shortage of PPE, since the national emergency was declared by President Trump on March 1, 2010 and restricted non-essential travels and WHO officially naming it a pandemic on March 11, 2010.

In Spain, about 15% of the COVID-19 deaths were healthcare providers. There are countless other physicians, nurses, allied workers in the U.S. and in other nations who have died taking care of COVID-29 patients. They are the courageous and admirable front-liners who have put themselves in harm’s way, true to their oath, and brave death to serve their sick fellowmen. They are our wonder heroes. The youngest physician who died from COVID-19 was in her mid-30s. What a tragedy. What a waste.

When all of us, the entire society of man, follow those simple COVID rules with discipline, the viral spread would be effectively controlled sooner, and millions of lives around the world would be saved, including those of our selfless medical saviors, our soldiers on the battlefield.

After COVID-19 is defeated, the World Health Organization and the United Nations must conduct an investigation on the origin, the 44-delay in reporting to WHO (first case November 17, 2019 reported December 31), the death of the whistleblower, and all pertinent mysterious matters surrounding the first nCorona virus outbreak in Wuhan, Hubei, China, in order to prevent another global catastrophe, or a worse one, from ever happening.

Let us pray for our unsung heroes worldwide, because billions of lives around the globe depend on them, and May God bless all peoples on earth.

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Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, a Cardiac Surgeon Emeritus based in Northwest Indiana and Las Vegas, Nevada, is an international medical lecturer/author, a Health Advocate, and Chairman of the Filipino United Network-USA, a 501(c)3 humanitarian foundation in the United States. Websites: philipSchua.com and FUN8888.com; Email: scalpelpen@gmail.com.

Dr. Philip S. Chua

Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, Cardiac Surgeon Emeritus in Northwest Indiana and chairman of cardiac surgery from 1997 to 2010 at Cebu Doctors University Hospital, where he holds the title of Physician Emeritus in Surgery, is based in Las Vegas, Nevada. He is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, the Philippine College of Surgeons, and the Denton A. Cooley Cardiovascular Surgical Society. He is the chairman of the Filipino United Network – USA, a 501(c)(3) humanitarian foundation in the United States.

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