6 Things You Shouldn’t Do When Lockdown Eases.
A reminder that the SARS-CoV-2 is still lurking around us.
Lockdown all over the world has been quite successful. Some countries are slowly easing the lockdown to open up the economy. In China, the lockdown has been lifted for more than a month. In New Zealand, it has been almost 2 weeks since the country has lifted the most restrictive lockdown. In case you missed the article where I described New Zealand’s strict lockdown, you can find the article here:
New Zealand’s Lockdown Is Nothing Like Other Countries.
New Zealand is practising physical distancing to its strictest definition and has claimed success.
Based on my observations, some latest news in China as well as some scientific references, I would like to share with you 6 things you shouldn’t do when lockdown eases to avoid a second wave.
1. Don’t act like there is no more virus.
Easing lockdown does not mean to “return to business as usual”. I am here to give everybody a gentle reminder that the SARS-CoV-2 is still lurking around us. There is no time to let our guard down irrespective of what stats your country is currently showing.
Even your state has reported 0 cases today, remember there is always a time-lag in the true active cases. Considering a patient who was tested positive today may develop symptoms 4 days ago, and the incubation period can be as long as 14 days, the patient may have been infected 2 weeks ago. Hence, the time-lag was about 1–2 week.
We must not forget that asymptomatic patients may spread the virus. According to the latest Chinese news: In Wuhan city, the epicentre of the COVID-19 outbreak in China, there were 6 new confirmed cases in May 2020, more than a month since Wuhan city has lifted lockdown and observed no new cases. All cases were identified from the same community and they were previously asymptomatic.
The question is why did new cases emerge again? Experts suspected there may be an undetected asymptomatic transmission. Yet, experts can’t be sure of the relative proportion of asymptomatic cases to symptomatic cases.
This is aligned with what Andy Slavitt has just recently posted, that this is not the time to relax social distancing:
Relaxing All Social Distancing Behaviors Now Is a Huge Mistake
The consequences of our actions in May won’t be felt until June
What you should be doing instead? Stay alert, we must always be careful of asymptomatic transmission.
2. Don’t form a crowd.
A crowd must be avoided at all cost. Crowding increases the risk of a second wave. Nobody wants a second wave.
We have learned from the mistake in Singapore. Initially, Singapore was praised for its ability to contain the virus without submitting to nationwide lockdown. Unfortunately, Singapore had a blindspot — dormitories. Up to 20 lowly paid migrant workers occupied a room in these dormitories. Journalists described the poor living conditions of these dormitories as “a ticking time bomb”.
If one is infected, the majority can’t escape from the ultimate fate of being “tested positive”.
It is not a time to throw a party either. It has been recently reported that a cluster of COVID-19 cases in California was traced back to a birthday party.
In New Zealand, people were crowding in front of burger joints on the first day when the nationwide lockdown was lifted. It was rather disturbing, some people did not take social distancing seriously anymore, don’t be one of them.
What you should be doing instead? While a crowd is hard to define in specific, we should continue to practice social distancing as much as possible.
3. Don’t share an elevator.
An elevator is rather convenient. However, an elevator is a small enclosed area, sometimes with poor ventilation. If somebody sneezed inside the elevator, you probably can’t escape from the aerosol. We should probably just allow one person in an elevator at one time.
Those who can walk or use escalator should probably use them so that we reserve the elevator for those who really need it, such as those who are working on the 20th floor.
Dana G Smith also recently pointed out that poor air circulation in an enclosed room is likely to be in favour of viral transmission.
If the Coronavirus Is Airborne, What Does It Mean for Us?
As the economy opens up, distancing, masks, and ventilation become more important than ever
What you should be doing instead? If you see a stranger in a small enclosed room, don’t go in.
4. Don’t keep your mask and hand sanitizer at home.
Many people are not wearing a mask and bringing a hand sanitizer now. Although social distancing is the top measure to avoid infection, wearing a mask becomes important when more and more people starting to redeem their “freedom”. As much as we actively want to keep a safe distance from strangers, the strangers may get too close for your comfort.
Be aware of what we’ve touched, including the door handles, bus handles, groceries at supermarkets, etc. So, don’t keep your hand sanitizer. Don’t let hand-washing be a hype, let it be a lifetime habit. Hand-washing not only reduce the risks of contracting COVID-19 but also other common infections.
What you should be doing instead? Don’t forget what we’ve learned:
- Wear a mask
- Wash hand with alcohol or soap frequently
5. Don’t speak “moistly”.
This term was originally coined by the Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau. I know some people have their saliva frequently spraying out from their “leaky” mouth while they speak, and it is totally physiologically normal for them.
If you are aware of yourself speaking “moistly” then please wear a mask at this unprecedented time; if you know somebody is speaking “moistly”, please ask them to kindly wear a mask.
If you are not a person who naturally speaking “moistly”, then lower the voice. Research has found that the louder the speech, the more aerosol we emit.
What you should be doing instead? Speak softly and always wear a mask especially if you are speaking “moistly”.
6. Don’t use public washrooms.
In Wuhan city’s hospital where virus-infected patients were being treated, there was a high concentration of virus particle detected in the air of the washrooms, with a relatively low or undetectable concentration of virus particle found in the patient wards of the same hospital.
A toilet is an efficient “tool” to generate aerosol. Every time we flush, we generate aerosol. This is why toilet cover is designed. Yet, some toilet has no cover. Furthermore, many hands have touched the door handles and flush handles, not to say a minority of people don’t clean their hands properly after using the toilet.
We now know virus particles are present in the stool sample of patients. Even after the patients were cleared of virus particles in the respiratory tract, 23% of patients had been tested positive with SARS-CoV-2 in their stool. Imagine when these patients flush their stool down the toilet, they contaminate the entire washroom with virus particles.
What you should be doing instead? Although Dr David Johnson from CDC said the risk of public washroom has not been carefully assessed, I would take extra precaution by avoiding public washroom if possible.
Many experts have warned about a second wave. Whether or not it will become a reality or not, it depends on everybody’s efforts. While we are not actively spreading the virus, we must protect ourselves from catching one.
We want to move forward, not back to lockdown.
If unsure, the Prime Minister of New Zealand said, “Act like you have COVID-19.”