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Wuhan Coronavirus

February 9, 2020


Just a thought about the novel Wuhan coronavirus, or Covid-19 (formerly 2019-nCoV), as it's known to its friends. So far there is no treatment, and it looks like a vaccine is 6 to 12 months away. Our best bet is to stop it spreading. Lots of effort is going into this, and quarantining and tracking will be easier for some countries than others. Being in lockdown in Wuhan must be an utter nightmare and I've no idea how this works on a practical level - how do people get food, and pay their bills without going to work? But apart from this, the main problem, as far as I can see, is the long incubation period of up to 14 days. That's right - you can have the virus without knowing it, happily passing it on to everyone in your path for 14 days! This means the virus is always 14 days ahead of us, and may have spread to new areas already, which we'll find out about in 14 days.


So what about face masks then? There's a good article in the Guardian:



There are different designs of masks, but the main flaws are that the eyes are still exposed, and the gaps around the edges. Also, masks are uncomfortable to wear for longer periods. They do reduce transmission to some degree, probably by stopping you touching your face without noticing - gloves would probably do a better job of this, and be more comfortable to wear, at least in winter! But instead of wasting resources on vaccines for an unspecified time in the future, why don't we try to improve the mask design? This could have huge and immediate results. And why not widen the specs and try to come up with some special coronavirus facial protective gear? I'm thinking some sort of veil - it will cover the whole face and prevent the virus from sneaking in from the gaps in the side, and be much more comfortable to wear because there is a lot more airflow. The type of fabric will need some consideration, and it will need a clear plastic window for the eyes. Something along the lines of these UV protection hiking hats:





They could be adapted to not have any gaps, and to have a clear plastic window for the eyes. They could be quick dry and washable - soap and water kills the virus. The virus only survives for a few hours on surfaces, and usually it's very short-lived on porous surfaces. The common flu virus can survive only 20 minutes on fabrics and towels, but I don't know if Covid-19 is the same.* It's not going to give 100% protection from catching the virus, as some will get through the fabric, but as a public health measure it could go a long way of making it harder for the virus to spread, and it will decrease the chance of catching it. It will also help with seasonal allergies. These hiking hats go for a few quid on ebay, if governments were to commission them they'd be cheaper in the long run than the surgical masks, which are disposable. They probably won't catch on in the UK at present as the threat is very small, but in high risk areas they'd make a lot more sense than surgical masks.


Here's an article on other preventive measures:




and a short video:




Basically - wash your hands! Soap and hand gel both work. However gloves might be even better. And keep your nails short - a lot of stuff hides underneath fingernails, they don't often mention that.


Sorry if you were expecting herbal tips, but we just don't know enough about the virus. It wouldn't harm to keep your immune system happy tho to generally avoid catching any viruses. So a healthy diet, exercise, plenty of vitamin C, D, zinc and maybe some garlic or echinacea. Licorice does stop some viruses from attaching to cells, but we don't know if it works for Covid-19.  And check contraindications.


* Apparently human coronaviruses can survive for up to 9 days on surfaces, and animal ones even for over 28 days!









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Safety:  The information on this blog does not constitute medical advice, and is intended as general information only.  If you are pregnant, breast feeding, taking any medicines or have any complex or serious health conditions, please consult a qualified healthcare practitioner before taking herbs.  See www.nimh.org.uk for information on medical herbalists.