Quaran-time Qs with Dr Jason Leong: Debunking COVID-19 myths
The doctor's in the house
BURO. HANGOUTS LIVE
For the whole month of April, we'll be curating a series of IG Live sessions on @buromalaysia with tastemakers, influencers and rightful experts in various industries.
Our purpose: To make staying at home, isolation and social distancing just a bit easier, as well as connecting all Malaysians riding out the current MCO. We'll share meaningful—and important—conversations and entertain with creative challenges.
Missed the episode with Dr Jason Leong? Fret not cos you can watch it now on our IGTV. We've also transcribed some of the key questions he answered below.
Should I take hot showers to kill the virus?
"You don't have to take hot showers per se. All you need is a shower with water and soap, the two of which have been known to be the most effective way of killing the virus."
"Also, I think right now, people will take a shower after they've gone out to shop for groceries. There's no harm in that."
When I bungkus makan or order food delivery, do I have to spray or wipe it with disinfectant products?
"No. There has been no evidence that the virus can travel through food and most of the delivery services are quite fastidious with their hygiene practice as well. Hence, so far, there has not been evidence that you need to spray or wipe with disinfectant."
How safe is online shopping?
"Similarly, online shopping is pretty safe. So, no, you don't have to spray your mail or packages with disinfectant either."
Should I avoid taking my contact lenses in and out?
"This would require us to go to the root question. This is why people are advised not to touch their faces because your hands have touched other surfaces—which may have the virus—and then if you touch your face, the virus can get into your body through your nostrils, eyes and mouth. So there is definitely a risk. However, if you keep washing your hands and keep them clean, then it's safe to use your contact lenses. Make sure to wash them and keep them well."
20 seconds of hand washing, right?
"Yes, 20 seconds or sing Happy Birthday twice. But I think it's better to sing in on the inside, and not while washing your hands in public. It could be very disturbing."
Can drinking alcohol kill the coronavirus?
"No, because if that was true, the Irish, Scottish, Australians and Indians wouldn't have the coronavirus. What would work is the alcohol in your hand sanitisers. According to the CDC, it should have about 60 per cent of alcohol or more. So that's how you can kill the virus. So don't think that drinking alcohol can kill the coronavirus. It kills other things—like families."
What about DIY hand sanitisers?
"I have a feeling those won't be as effective though I've not tried them myself. As long as it has 60 per cent of alcohol and above, then regardless if it's pretty or has glitter, you can use them. I wouldn't make my own hand sanitisers. You can get them now at pharmacies. Don't DIY because if you do get the coronavirus, and you tell the doctor that you made your own hand sanitiser, your doctor will laugh at you."
What about making your own face masks?
"I've read reports of people using homemade face masks and it hasn't been effective. I think there were some healthcare workers who made their own PPEs (personal protection equipment) and that wasn't effective either. When it comes to these kind of things, just don't do it yourself. Just buy the proper ones. You can buy face masks online now and that's a safe bet."
Can my pets get COVID-19?
"Yes, I've read that some tigers and a few other animals have gotten the virus. It's very unlikely that pets can get it but there's still a possibility. What's more important, however, is that there is no evidence that the virus can transmit from pets to humans. For now. The situation is evolving as we speak. What the CDC has suggested is that if you're symptomatic or if you have the virus, keep yourself away from your pets. Even if you don't have symptoms, just practise good hygiene."
My wife and I are trying for a baby—what are the chances of our unborn baby getting the virus?
"In March, there were reports of vertical transmission—which means from mother to baby—so there were a few newborns who had COVID-19. So yes, it's a small chance that babies can get it from mothers. Hence, it boils down to the advice given which is social distancing and good hygiene. If the husband and wife remain safe, then the baby will be safe too."
"If you're trying for a baby, then you can't do it... while social distancing. Just remember that if the prospective parents-to-be are responsible then there'll be a good chance that the baby won't have COVID-19."
Can I get the coronavirus again if I've been cured?
"Yes, there have been a few cases where the people who initially tested negative for the virus then gets tested positive later. There are two reasons why this occurred. First, it could have been a false negative—meaning the test didn't pick up the virus that was still in the patient's body. Then, when they return for a follow-up, the subsequent test picks up the original infection. In the early days, it was thought to be a re-infection but in reality, it was the initial infection.
The second reason is akin to other viruses where you don't get full immunity. This is a new virus so the information we get on it is always evolving. So far, there are actual cases where it's a re-infection. A closer example in Malaysia would be dengue. If you've gotten dengue before, it doesn't mean you won't get it again. You don't get full immunity—dengue has four or five different strains. If you get infected with one dengue strain, it does not confer your immunity to the other strains. This could be the case with COVID-19. But again, it's still evolving so the important thing to note is that just because you had coronavirus, and you're cured, it doesn't mean you should go and hug everyone or stop showering. You should still practise the same standards as everyone else."
For more updates (on both fun and serious note) from Dr Jason Leong, follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. He'll also be uploading "The All Day Show with No Budget with Jason Leong" at least once a week.