It probably won’t be news to you that countries around the world are increasingly growing wary by the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), also known as the Wuhan coronavirus, following its discovery in the city of Wuhan in Hubei, China last December.
This type of virus is new—meaning treatment is not yet available. However, it is in the same family as the common cold and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which also caused global scare in 2003. In his Chinese New Year message, Prime Minister Lee Hsieng Loong assured the public, saying “we are well prepared, because we have been gearing up for such a situation ever since we dealt with SARS in 2003.”
As of 28 January, there have been seven confirmed cases in Singapore, all coming from Wuhan and are currently in stable condition. Victims of the virus have been found to suffer from pneumonia or respiratory illness. While there is no evidence of community spread in Singapore, these cases pose a heightened risk to the country, according to the Ministry of Health (MOH).
Keep the following in mind:
- Teach your kids to wash their hands frequently, especially before preparing food or eating, after using the toilet, and after coughing or sneezing. Practice this at home so they know what to do when outside.
- Remind your children to observe good personal hygiene. Use a tissue when sneezing or coughing. Discard of any soiled tissue in a rubbish bin immediately, and then wash hands.
- Wear a mask if you are unwell. Surgical masks are more advisable for the public than N95 masks, which are used in healthcare settings.
- Monitor, monitor, monitor. Take their temperature at least twice a day and monitor if they are coughing or sneezing.
- Avoid crowded places. A few cases outside Singapore have already shown human-to-human transmission of the virus. If it’s something that’s not important, better keep the kids at home.
- Reconsider or postpone travel plans with your kids. Non-essential travel to China is recommended to be deferred.
- Avoid contact with live farm or wild animals and consumption of raw and undercooked meat. It is possible that this coronavirus came from animals—specifically from a wet market in Wuhan—but more research needs to be done to confirm this. The case is also similar to the SARS virus. As much as possible, cook food well and practice safe preparation.
- Keep them hydrated. Their throat should be constantly moist as the coronavirus can enter the body if one’s throat or throat mucous is dry.
- Don’t forget to let them take their Vitamin C supplement or consume food rich in Vitamin C. This is a season where you and your kids should be at optimum health. Those with low immune system are more at risk to get the virus.
- Seek medical attention immediately if you or a family member feels unwell and inform your doctor about your travel history.
- Students and teachers coming from mainland China should take a 14-day leave of absence and monitor their health closely for symptoms. According to data from MOH, the incubation period can last up to 14 days.