How to Stay Well During Virus Outbreak Season
When the weather starts changing in Hong Kong, it brings with it colds, flu and other not-so-fun viruses like coronavirus. There’s a lot of mystery and false information out there about hygiene and masks, so we’ve researched far and wide to bring you the most accurate advice we can on staying healthy and well this season. Here are our easy-to-follow tips, based on advice from international experts like the World Health Organization and other national and government medical bodies.
1. Establish good person hygiene
COVID-19 (coronavirus) is not believed to be airborne; instead, it spreads from person to person. Generally you have to stand within 6 feet of someone with the virus to catch it from them, and it travels via respiratory droplets, spread when someone coughs or sneezes. It may also spread from a person who has the virus touching a surface or object after touching their mouth, nose or eyes, then someone else touching that same surface and then touching their eyes, nose, mouth, mucous-y inner parts of the ears, or even touching a wound, cut, rash, pimples or acne of the skin.
What this means is that you’re more likely to catch coronavirus from touching your smartphone, touching a door handle, a lift button or a toilet tap than you are if you don’t wear a mask (more on masks later). While we can limit what we touch to an extent, it’s impossible not to touch anything – not unless you want to live in a bubble. So here are some simple tips for practising good personal hygiene:
• Always wash your hands with soap and water. Start by turning on the tap and washing your hands with clean water. Then add soap. Spend 20 to 30 seconds washing, scrubbing soap between your fingers, lathering the backs of your hands and up as far as your wrists. Rinse off the soap, and turn off the tap.
• Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. If you don’t have a tissue with you, you can simply cough or sneeze into your elbow.
• If you have any respiratory symptoms, stay at home and keep close contact with others to a minimum.
• When you flush the toilet, it’s possible for germs and fecal matter to shoot up from the toilet bowl into the air. A simple solution? Lower the toilet lid while you flush.
• Carry hand sanitiser with you, and have a bottle handy at home. As with water-and-soap washing, apply sanitiser to all sides of your hands, between your fingers and around your wrists.
• Avoid sharing cups, glasses, plates or cutlery and always use serving chopsticks or cutlery when dipping into shared dishes.
Some shops are running low on stock of hand sanitiser while they wait for more new stock. An easy alternative is to make your own hand sanitiser, using essential oils! All you need to do is mix alcohol – try rubbing alcohol, which you can easily find at any pharmacy; it’s a useful topical antiseptic – with our Natural Disinfectant Spray Blend. It’s ideal for skin, clothes, furniture, and it’s safe for children, pregnant women and pets, too.
2. If you’re sick, wear a mask, or stay home
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends only wearing a mask if you are sick or coughing or sneezing, or if you’re caring for someone who has or is suspected of having coronavirus.
Medical-grade surgical masks were designed for medical professionals, to help them avoid exposing their patients to any respiratory illnesses they might have. Proper, surgical masks or respirators like the N95 are effective at protecting the environment from the mask wearer, and not the wearer from any virus in the environment. It’s questionable whether the masks you buy on the street are effective at all, say the WHO and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (they’re not made to the same standards as medical-grade surgical masks).
They are effective only when combined with frequent hand-washing with hand sanitiser or another alcohol-based disinfectant or soap.
If you’re sick, or if it puts your mind at ease to wear a mask, follow these tips from the WHO in order to maximise its effectiveness:
• Clean your hands thoroughly before you put on your mask. Follow the steps in tip 1 above.
• Cover your mouth and nose with the mask. Check to make sure there are no gaps between your face and the mask.
• Don’t touch the mask while you’re wearing it. If you do touch it, wash your hands with soap and water or hand sanitiser following the steps in tip 1 above.
• When your mask gets damp – if you cough or sneeze into it or if it somehow gets wet – replace it immediately with a new one.
• When you’re taking off the mask, remove it via the straps at the back rather than touching the front of the mask. If it’s a single-use mask, throw it in a closed rubbish bin after wearing it, then clean your hands thoroughly.
• Do not reuse single-use masks.
3. Try this mood- and immune-booster
We understand that wearing a mask all day can be quite suffocating. To boost your mood and your immune system when you’re NOT wearing a mask (remember: masks become ineffective as soon as they are damp), sprinkle a few drops of the de Mamiel Altitude Oil onto a tissue, or dab a drop under each nostril (if you do this, remember to wash your hands afterwards!). Take a few deep breaths to clear your head and soothe your emotions.
This delicate blend of herbal-sweet lavender, refreshing lemon myrtle and peppermint combined with earthy patchouli is designed to clear your nasal passages, chest, airways and mind. The key ingredient is fragonia essential oil: this anti-microbial oil comes from a Western Australian plant known for its calming properties and its anti-inflammatory qualities.
4. Give your house and your personal belongings a good clean
Given coronavirus can spread through surfaces and objects, it’s worth keeping your home and your belongings clean. After all, you may not be able to control the cleanliness of the wider environment you spend time in, but you can control how clean you and your own space are. Here are some cleaning tips:
• Clean and disinfect your furniture, bathrooms, kitchen, floors and all other frequently touched surfaces (including remote controls!) with disinfectant or household bleach, diluted at a rate of 1:99 (mix one part 5.25% bleach with 99 parts water). Leave for 15 to 30 minutes, then rinse all surfaces with water. Clean your hands thoroughly when you’re done.
• Wash fabrics – from clothing to bed linens – regularly.
• Open the windows as you do this to ensure good ventilation and avoid touching your face or eyes (you can wear gloves and a surgical mask as you do this if you like).
• Make sure you have good ventilation at all times, and wash your air-conditioners’ dust filters regularly.
• According to microbiologists at the University of Arizona, smartphones can carry up to 10 times more bacteria than toilet seats, yuck. So clean your smartphone regularly, and your computer keyboard. With your phone, turn it off first. Then use a lint-free cloth to rub the screen, dipping it in a 1:1 mix of rubbing alcohol and water, or vinegar and water (your screen is made of super-strong glass but it’s quite sensitive, so that’s why you don’t want to use anti-bacterial gels or wipes on it, unless you really have to). Get into the cracks using a Q-tip dipped in your water/vinegar/alcohol mix. You can apply a similar technique to your computer screen and keyboard.
You can also clear the air in your home and help boost immune systems with Primavera’s Cold and Flu Fighter essential oil combination. Use five drops of the lemon oil, two drops of the lemongrass and two drops of the eucalyptus radiata oil in an essential oil diffuser, and feel the air and your mood lighten.
5. Strengthen your immune system from within
Prevention is always better than cure. A healthy, balanced diet and a balanced mind will help you keep your immune system healthy and effectively fighting off viruses.
To boost your immune system, consume lots of vitamin C – our white blood cells need vitamin C to combat bacteria and viruses. You can get this vitamin through berries, citrus fruits and dark green vegetables.
Vitamin D can also keep inflammation at bay; it has a regulating function within the immune system. It comes through naturally from the rays of the sun, so spend more time outside and enjoy sunshine when you can. This will help prevent Vitamin D deficiency.
And don’t forget the guardians in your guts – gut-associated lymphoid tissue represents at least 70% of our immune system. To boost gut health, consider consuming more fermented food like miso, bio-active or probiotic yogurt or kimchi in order to obtain the good bacteria your guts need.
If you find it difficult to maintain a healthy diet, you could take this immune-supporting combination of supplements from Ogaenics combination: Oilalala Skin Omega Komplex, Body Guard Immune Komplex, Hello Sunshine Plant-Based Vitamin D, Love Your Gut Daily Biotic-Komplex and Healthy Kick Plant-Based Vitamin C. This combination is packed with the nutrients you need to build up the strong immune system you need to keep you fighting fit this season.