Umm Muhammed Umar 10.03.20
Late last Thursday night, the same day that the first Coronavirus case was confirmed in South Africa, I received a WhatsApp message (yes, from amongst dozens of other ones) about ways by which to avoid contracting the new Coronavirus. The message was purportedly written by a noted pathologist, James Robb. The advice was excellent and did sound like it had been penned by a professional. I went to Snopes, a fact check website, to be sure it was bona fide. Indeed, it has been proved to be true.
Subsequently, I have read several “Do’s and Don’ts” articles concerning how to manage oneself now that the virus has entered South Africa. Robbs common sense tips still appealed to me the most and so I have decided to share them here.
Robb described himself as “one of the first molecular virologists in the world to work on coronaviruses.” He told Snopes, that he was indeed the author of what was a letter that was never meant to be for anyone, aside from family and close friends. Someone from amongst them had posted the letter on Facebook, from which it went found its way to WhatsApp.
Robb says in an email to Snopes, “It was intended to be a monologue – not a dialogue. I do not use any social media and may have been too naive about what ‘sharing’ means today.”
Robbs history with coronaviruses goes back to the late 1970s. As a professor of pathology at the University of California, San Diego, Robb published some of the earliest descriptions of coronaviruses.
In the letter he shares practical tips for the prevention of disease transmission, which I have decide to share, with a few adaptations, for Muslims:
1) NO HANDSHAKING! Use a fist bump, elbow bump, etc. I’m sure most of us have seen the (quite funny) videos on social media of people in places where there has been a huge Coronavirus infection impact, touching shoes with shoes, instead of shaking hands. A simple ‘Assalaamu alaikum’ will also do.
2) Use ONLY a knuckle to touch light switches, elevator buttons, etc. (DO NOT use your fingertips.)
3) Open doors with your closed fist or hip – do not grasp the handle with your hand, unless there is no other way to open the door. (Personally, I think it’s a good idea to carry wipes or disposable tissues around, with which to hold handles of doors that cannot be nudged open.)
4) Use disinfectant wipes at the stores when they are available, including wiping the handle and child seat in grocery carts. (carrying wipes is great for this too, in case the store you’re in does not supply them.)
5) Wash your hands with soap for 10-20 seconds whenever you return home from ANY activity that involves locations where other people have been.
6) Keep a bottle of hand sanitizer in your car for use after filling your tank or touching other possibly contaminated objects when you can’t immediately wash your hands.
7) If possible, cough or sneeze into a disposable tissue and discard. Use your elbow (not my words….) only if you have to. The clothing on your elbow will contain infectious virus that can be passed on for up to a week or more!
This is what the Professor says he has stocked in preparation for the spread of CoVid-19:
- Latex or nitrile latex disposable gloves for use when going shopping, and all other outside activity. Get the appropriate sizes for your family. (They’re inexpensive, I checked. They sell at about R114 for a box of 100.)
Robb adds a note: This virus is spread in large droplets by coughing and sneezing. This means that the air will not infect you! BUT all the surfaces where these droplets land are infectious for about a week on average - everything that is associated with infected people will be contaminated and potentially infectious. The virus is on surfaces and you will not be infected unless your unprotected face is directly coughed or sneezed upon. This virus only has cell receptors for lung cells, it only infects your lungs. The only way for the virus to infect you is through your nose or mouth via your (own) hands or an infected cough or sneeze onto or into your nose or mouth.
2) Stock up with disposable surgical masks and use them to prevent you from touching your nose and/or mouth. (I’m not sure any are available any longer. Such was the panic last week that Takealot came under fire for attempting to sell them at R2500 for a pack of 50. The normal price is roughly R75). Robb says we touch our nose/mouth ninety times in one day while being unaware that we’re doing that. He says while a mask will not prevent the virus in a direct sneeze from getting into your nose or mouth - it does keep you from touching your (own) nose or mouth.
3) Stock up now with hand sanitizers (if they’re still any left in the stores……I was unable to obtain any, the very next day after South Africa’s first case announcement). The hand sanitizers must be alcohol-based and greater than 60% alcohol to be effective. (100 percent pure synthetic alcohol, the kind that would kill you if you were to drink it, not the intoxicating variety.)
4) Stock up now with zinc lozenges. Professor Robb says, “These lozenges have been proven to be effective in blocking coronavirus (and most other viruses) from multiplying in your throat and nasopharynx. Use as directed several times each day when you begin to feel ANY ‘cold-like’ symptoms beginning. It is best to lie down and let the lozenge dissolve in the back of your throat and nasopharynx. (Note he does not claim that lozenges will prevent you from being infected, but that it does slow down the multiplication of the virus in the nose and throat area.) Lots of people, after reading the message, apparently believed ‘Cold-Eeze’ mentioned in the letter was a “silver bullet” that would “kill the Coronavirus.” This is untrue, not only for ‘Cold Eeze’, but for other similar products as well.
The Professor says, “I expect COVID-19 will be inhibited similarly, but I have no direct experimental support for this claim. I must add, however, that using zinc lozenges………is no guarantee against being infected by the virus, even if it inhibits the viral replication in the nasopharynx.”
Professor Robb writes, “I, as many others do, hope that this pandemic will be reasonably contained, BUT I personally do not think it will be. Humans have never seen this……. virus before and have no internal defence against it. Tremendous worldwide efforts are being made to understand the molecular and clinical virology of this virus. Unbelievable molecular knowledge about the genomics, structure, and virulence of this virus has already been achieved. BUT, there will be NO drugs or vaccines available this year to protect us or limit the infection within us. Only symptomatic support is available.”
It goes without saying that as Muslims we should first and foremost ask Allah the Almighty to protect us, and all, everywhere, from this new Coronavirus that has already seen thousands dead.
Also, please begin taking your Vitamin C, honey, lemon and turmeric water, and of course (how could I leave this out!) gingerpaak and garlic, to strengthen your immune system.