Avoid eating raw meat. Consume soups and other food with malunggay leaves. Stay hydrated.
The food that we eat, it seems, can help us avoid contracting the deadly 2019 novel coronavirus (nCoV), which has killed at least 300 people and infected more than 14,000 in China alone.
On Feb. 2, a 44-year-old man from Wuhan, China was reported dead due to the virus. The second confirmed case in the Philippines and the first death outside of China.
“Rule Number 1: Never eat raw meat. It can give us many diseases. Half-cooked also won’t cut it. Don’t eat pinkish meat, especially when it comes to pork,” said Health Secretary Francisco Duque, who last week announced the country’s first confirmed nCoV case involving a 38-year-old Chinese woman who traveled from Wuhan via Hong Kong.
“Kilawin—stop it for the meantime because many microbes are present in raw meat,” he reiterated.
Filipinos should as well avoid eating exotic animals such as snakes and lizards. But if partaking of such dishes cannot be avoided, Duque said the meat must be cooked well—no medium-rare, please.
“You need to cook it well because coronaviruses are sensitive to heat. I think it will be neutralized at 53 degrees Centigrade,” he said.
Several illnesses, after all, are zoonotic or are transmitted from animals, such as the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS), African Swine Fever (ASF), and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV).
“SARS came from civet cats. HIV/AIDS came from chimpanzees and ASF came from pigs. MERS-CoV originally came from bats then to camels,” said Duque.
Studies have pointed to bats or snakes as the origin of nCoV based on the genetic analysis of the virus—bats being the native host and snakes being the most logical intermediate host. Both rats and snakes are sold at Wuhan’s Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, believed to be the origin of the outbreak.
Drink water and fruit juices as well, and to partake of nutritious food, especially malunggay.
“I strongly recommend as your doctor that you have to drink a lot of water. Make sure that your throat is moist so that the virus doesn’t attach to it and eventually get sore,” added Duque.
Aside from proper food preparation, the times call for avoiding handshakes. Neither is making beso de rigueur—not when everyone’s wearing a face mask and armed with alcohol, alcogel, and hand sanitizer.
“At most, maybe you can do a fist bump. Or if you want, a finger to finger as the least contact point. At best, just say ‘hello!’ But avoid shaking of hands and avoid beso-beso,” advised Duque.
And the most basic reminder, of course, is to practice frequent hand washing which should last for at least 20 seconds.
“You can sing ‘Happy birthday’ or say your little prayer of ‘Our Father’—nothing prevents you from extending it by another 20 seconds so you can sing and you can pray. That’s 40 seconds all in all,” the health chief added.
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