On behalf of us all in Shanghai, we hope that this message finds you and your loved ones well – and in good spirits.
This will soon pass. Having had a two-month head start to living, and raising a family under this pandemic, we would like to assure each of you that, in FDR’s words, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” From our experience, even in the darkest days, when silence engulfed every corner in a city of twenty-four million people, there is absolutely nothing that couldn’t be overcome by some added vigilance.
We would like to share the most important pieces of advice that we have gathered during this time, all of which we have used to ensure our family’s health and well-being.
Masks. Wear a mask in public if at all possible. Surgical masks will not protect against incoming virus transmission, as they’re meant to keep you from getting others sick. But they will prevent you from subconsciously touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. That alone can be essential. The virus does not care how it gets into the body, so long as there is a path for entry. Eyes, for example, can be just as dangerous of a vector as the nose when touched by dirty hands. N95 masks, generally effective against viruses, can protect only the nose and mouth area that it covers (in our part of China, the N95 has become known as the “selfish” mask, because it, having an air filter, only protects the wearer and not others around them). It is thus advisable for everyone to wear a surgical mask in public, because although they only protect one-way, everyone having an “unselfish” mask on in a given place, collectively, will significantly curtail transmission through the air.
Hand Sanitizers. Carry a portable bottle of hand sanitizer containing 75% alcohol with you at all times. Use on your hands when soap and running water are unavailable, after coming into contact with any foreign object (e.g., things on public transportation, in supermarkets, or anywhere else outside the home). Also, because the virus can remain active on phones and other gadgets for as long as 3 days, regularly use a disinfectant wipe containing alcohol to wipe those off thoroughly after any period of use.
Washing Hands. Make it a rule to wash your hands thoroughly and religiously with soap and running water whenever you return home, and at regular intervals during the day at work. Continue washing for at least the amount of time it takes to sing the whole “Alphabet Song” once, or the “Happy Birthday” song twice.
Clothing. Do not keep wearing out-of-the-house clothing at home. Upon returning home, isolate all garments that were worn outside, and change into clean clothing kept at home and meant only for at-home use.
Air Conditioning. Avoid exposure to central air conditioning in places where there are known cases, or places that are at high risk of having asymptomatic carriers of the disease. The virus can spread through airborne transmission over “tunnel” ventilation systems such as air conditioning, which is why hundreds of people on the same cruise ship can get infected by a single person without ever coming into contact. For the same reason, ensure fresh airflow from the outside as much as possible, as opposed to relying on air conditioning.
Drains. Fill bathroom and/or kitchen drains at home with water at regular intervals. Since the virus is known to be able to spread through sewers, drains that ultimately empty into a public sewerage system must be “washed down” regularly as a shield against infection.
We hope these facts will help everyone in adjusting their daily lives to a new reality. Most importantly, please ensure that your loved ones, especially those who may be at the highest risk, are taking these precautions and are being cared for during this time.
So long as we adapt and live on, we will continue to thrive. Please take care.