International Conventions in an Age of Covid-19. Should You Fly or Not?
This question just came up: Should I take part in an international convention when there are major outbreaks of Corona/Wuhan virus in China?
There are many articles out there that nurture panic. Don’t take them seriously.
Knowledge is the prerequisite for efficient prevention, and here is what I practice.
I speak from experience.
Facts About The Corona/Wuhan Virus
It is comparably large in size, so simple 3-layer medical-grade masks (and not just the expensive N95 masks) are able to filter most of the viruses out, at least for some time.
When an infected person coughs or sneezes, they emit droplets of saliva and mucus with the virus in it and these droplets fly about 3 meters before they drop to the ground, so they are no longer airborne.
When the virus drops on a metal surface, it will live for at least 12 hours.
The virus can remain active on fabric for 6-12 hours. Normal laundry detergent kills the virus.
John Hopkins CSSI has deployed a world map of Corona/Wuhan infection cases, here:
How the Corona/Wuhan Virus is Transmitted
The Corona/Wuhan virus spreads from one person to another mainly through breathing in, but also through contact with the mouth or the eyes. Similar to Anthrax, Chickenpox, Influenza, Measles, Smallpox, Cryptococcosis, Newcastle disease, and Tuberculosis.
When an infected person coughs or sneezes, they emit droplets of saliva and mucus. If you inhale any of those droplets then you can become infected. But also if they fall on you—or if you touch them after the droplets landed on a surface – and then, say, touch your face – you can become infected as well if you rub the droplets into your eyes.
From that follows the main point to understand: don’t get these droplets into your mouth, nose or eyes. And if you can avoid this then you are essentially safe.
Here are the very few main rules for protecting yourself from getting infected:
- wash your hands often
- don’t touch your own face, whatever happens
- don’t eat with your bare hands, use cutlery
- use a face mask AND goggles if you want to protect yourself from an infection
If you want to be extra-safe, then avoid shaking hands with other persons.
So in short words: don’t inhale, swallow or rub the droplets with the virus, and don’t rub them into your eyes and you will very likely be safe.
How To Put On A Mask, And How To Take It Off Safely
Putting on a mask is not difficult but you should always do it consciously. Otherwise, you may have a virus or bacteria between your mask and your face.
Before putting on a mask, wash your hands with soap and water or – second best – clean your hands with an alcohoI-based hand rub.
After you have put on the mask, check whether the mouth and nose are covered by the mask. Make sure there are no gaps between your face and the mask.
Important: avoid touching the mask while using it. Virus carrying droplets will accumulate there because of the air that you are sucking in. If you should touch your mask by mistake, wash your hands with soap and water or – second best – clean your hands with an alcohoI-based hand rub.
Replace the mask with a new one as soon as it is damp.
Do never re-use single-use paper masks. Wash re-usable masks before using them again.
To remove the mask from your face: remove it from behind (do not touch the front of mask). Discard it immediately in a closed bin. After removing a mask always wash your hands with soap and water or – second best – clean your hands with an alcohoI-based hand rub.
Two Common Mistakes When Wearing A Mask
The two most common mistakes are:
- using only a face mask but not using goggles if you want to prevent infection. Getting a virus carrying droplet into your eye will still infect you.
- touching the outside of your worn face mask. Virus carrying droplets will accumulate there.
Watch the following short movie what can happen if you don’t wash your hands often, and especially not after touching infected persons or objects:
For Infections, It Matters Where You Are, And For How Long
As with all transmitted diseases, airborne viruses such as the Corona/Wuhan virus cannot easily be transmitted between distant persons.
So, distance seems to be king,
However, retiring to a remote log cabin in the woods is not an option. Not only that you might die from other causes, e.g. the bear might eat you there. Do you really want to entirely avoid meeting other persons, at all?
Here comes the good news: you do not need to stop meeting other persons, even if there is a danger that they are infected.
This is because the droplets with the virus are not transported by air flowing through a space, but instead, they fall close to the person from where they originate. That is important knowledge because from that follows that the Corona/Wuhan virus is NOT transmitted via air-con systems.
But not only the distance matters. The time of exposure is also important. Short contacts are not dangerous. Transmitted disease experts define “exposure” as being within 2 meters of an infected person, for 10 minutes or longer.
Traveling On an Airplane
I found an article that recommends taking a window seat in an aircraft in order to reduce the risk of infection, here https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2020/01/how-coronavirus-spreads-on-a-plane/ The reason being that window seat passengers often stay in their seats throughout the entire flight. That does certainly not apply to long-haul flights, and traveling business class or first class is safer for these long flights because there are fewer people near you.
All in all, there is a low probability of transmission of the Corona/Wuhan virus to any particular passenger on an airplane if only the basic rules above for protecting yourself are followed by all passengers and cabin crew.
And If You Fall Sick
Most people will not get infected if they only behave wisely.
But if you fall sick, you will not like it at all. A Corona/Wuhan virus infection is more serious than conventional influenza. Chances are 80% or more that you will develop viral pneumonia if you are infected. Antibiotics will not help. 3 in 10 infected persons will develop severe respiratory problems.
Must read this article https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)30211-7 It is a study about all confirmed Corona/Wuhan virus infections in Wuhan Jinyintan Hospital from Jan 1 to Jan 20, 2020. Outcomes were followed up until Jan 25, 2020.
The outcome of this study and other studies is that between 1 in 10 and 1 in 50 or even only 1 in 500 of those who are infected will die. These are mostly elderly men that already have other diseases and/or are smokers.
Death will occur because of multiple organ failure.
Go and see a doctor as soon as possible in case you start to feel unwell! Effective life support and active treatment of complications are of utmost importance to effectively reduce the severity of your condition.
And stay away from others if you are not feeling well. Do this as a precaution in order to protect other people from getting infected.
These Are The Symptoms of a Corona/Wuhan Virus Infection
These are the symptoms of pneumonia that is caused by Corona/Wuhan virus:
The virus will first infect the throat, so you will have a dry and sore throat feeling which will last for 3 to 4 days.
Then the virus will be apparent in the nasal fluid. From there, the infected nasal fluid drips into the mouth and from there into the lungs, causing viral pneumonia. This process will take 5 to 6 days. Please note that you have acquired a viral pneumonia and not a “normal” bacterial pneumonia. There are no remedies against viral pneumonia, your immune system must fight this one alone.
With pneumonia come high fever and difficulty in breathing. The Corona/Wuhan virus nasal congestion is stronger than the nasal congestion that you know from a normal cold. When the fever starts, this is the latest point in time where medical attention should start. If you think that you can get through this without medical help, then this mindset may kill you.
This Is What You Can Do To Help Your Body In Fighting A Corona/Wuhan Virus Type Infection
The following applies to all virus infections that impair the lung function, and not only to Corona/Wuhan virus infections.
Above all, I go and see a doctor. This cannot be said often enough. People don’t die from the virus. Infected people die of secondary illnesses that can be treated, the earlier the better. Doctors can also run a blood test in order to confirm a Corona/Wuhan virus infection.
Back home from the doctor, I gargle with antiseptic solution so that I spit out as much mucus and saliva as possible before it can drip down to my lungs. As this is a mechanical way to clean my throat, any mouthwash is good. Even saltwater would do. I use Salviathymol concentrate, already for decades, because it comes in a small bottle that is easy to carry when traveling.
I drink as much water as I can. I usually squeeze a lemon or an orange into the water, my body seems to appreciate that extra bioactive input.
Now to the most important and painful procedure: the classic nose wash. I have written an article about this procedure, here https://ip-lawyer-tools.com/never-again-have-a-serious-cold-in-your-lifetime-do-nose-washes/
Virus infections come with bacterial infections because the immune system is busy with fighting the more serious viruses. There is a connection between the left nasal cavity and the right nasal cavity, through the frontal sinus. This is where these bacterias like to settle down. This is where my own colds start every time. I know that because when I have a cold, this passage is blocked. And when I clear this passage with regular nose washes, my cold becomes much easier or it even goes away.
Decision Making: Do You Attend the International Convention or Not
An important point is this: is that international convention an essential event or a non-essential event for you?
Seen from that perspective, your decision about whether to attend will be easy. If you don’t need to be there, use the money for something else that you need and want more.
Now assume the following situation. You have met someone during the convention, and that someone fell ill of the Corona/Wuhan virus. And that someone fell ill of the Corona/Wuhan virus before you could leave the country. Now ask yourself: would it be disturbing for you to be taken into quarantine for two weeks, even if it turns out that you were not infected with the Corona/Wuhan virus? For me, the answer is clear: no, this will not disturb me too much. I can do my work anywhere, using my laptop. Even in quarantine. But how about you?
Clear cut situation: if you are an elderly person with existing diseases then better stay at home. If you become infected with the Corona/Wuhan virus you have a high chance of ultimately dying from that infection. But be careful, the Corona/Wuhan virus may very soon be at your own place.
INTA 2020 Singapore and the FICPI Singapore Seminar 04/2020
Singapore is safe.
Yes, there are some Corona/Wuhan virus cases in Singapore. Currently (08 February 2020), everything is still manageable. If it gets worse, the administration will immediately and openly tell you so because they live in the same fish tank. Nothing will be hidden from you.
I was in Singapore during SARS, back in 2003. Singapore then became the safest place to be during such a crisis. The Singapore administration knows what they are doing. There are tools in place that allow early and efficient identification of infected persons that multiply the disease. As draconian and old-school as it may seem, quarantine remains one of the most valuable ways to control outbreaks. WHO credits quarantines and isolation for ultimately containing the SARS outbreak, check out this article: “SARS : how a global epidemic was stopped”
Please don’t be scared, you will not easily be taken into quarantine in Singapore. The following Youtube video explains how that is done (start at time 05:00 min):
On 07 February 2020, we had an orange alarm. That is not unusual. We had similar alarm levels in 2003 (SARS) and 2009 (Swine Flu). And we are still alive. I did not know anyone in Singapore that had died from SARS or Swine Flu. I did not even hear of one single SARS or Swine Flu case in my large network. Nor of one single Corona/Wuhan case.
There is nothing to hide in Singapore, the administration plays with open cards when it comes to outbreaks of contagious illnesses.
Here is an online map of Corona/Wuhan virus cases in Singapore https://sgwuhan.xose.net/
Please check out the chart below. This is the kind of information that you can read in Singapore newspapers.
And this is the official statement of the Singapore government. I consider this to be an authentic and honest message:
And yes, there were hoarding frenzies: people emptied the supermarket shelves. They bought toilet paper, rice, and instant soups.
But we Singaporeans kept our humor. Watch this Youtube video
What Does Being Quarantined Mean For Me
Taken all together, the Corona/Wuhan-Virus is not life-threatening for 99.4% of the general population, maybe even less if medical treatment is applied at an early stage of the infection. After studying 800,000 cases it came out that mostly old men will die that have already an existing illness. These old men should not travel anyway.
The biggest drawback for us IP lawyers, however, is the danger of becoming quarantined. From my experience, most people don’t even think about the possibility of being quarantined. That can be a danger if you are not prepared for that. If you cannot work remotely with your laptop while being quarantined, this will cause a loss of income. The total time of being quarantined is about 2 weeks.
As compared with becoming infected with the Corona/Wuhan-Virus, the likelihood of being quarantined without being infected is about 30 times higher.
As of 02 February 2020, a total of 525 people were quarantined in Singapore, for a total number of 18 confirmed Corona/Wuhan-Virus infections, check out these two articles
And just to anticipate your question: undergoing quarantine when not infected does not mean that you may very well become infected before you get out of quarantine. In Singapore, when under quarantine, you are NOT sharing space with other people in a common area/facility. In Singapore, there are no quarantine facilities and quarantine does not mean that you are detained. Doctors are not stupid.
In Singapore, you have a choice between staying at home or in a room of your own in a government dorm.
Please check out this video starting from minute 05:00
What This Means For Your Singapore Journey
If you have already booked a flight & a hotel in Singapore, you still can show up.
As far as INTA 2020 in Singapore is concerned, we will organize some events without loud music so that you can chat without getting close to each other.
And please be sure, there will be people who measure your body temperature several times per day.
Call To Action
If you decide to attend an international convention, prepare yourself. If you are careful you can talk with infected people without getting infected yourself.
Remember this: when an infected person coughs or sneezes, they emit droplets of saliva and mucus. If you inhale any of those droplets then you can become infected. But also if they fall on you—or if you touch them after the droplets landed on a surface – and then, say, you touch your face – you can become infected as well if you rub the droplets into your eyes. Avoid these droplets like hell!
The droplets cannot fly far from a sick person. Two meters at most.
And no, the aircon does not spread these droplets.
First, the Rules. Learn them by heart:
- wash your hands often
- don’t touch your own face, whatever happens
- don’t eat with your bare hands
- use a face mask AND goggles if you want to protect yourself from an infection
Again, if you want to be extra-safe, then avoid shaking hands with other persons.
Learn how to put on a mask, and how to take it off safely. Always do this consciously. Otherwise, you may end up with a virus or bacteria between your mask and your face.
Again, the two most common mistakes are:
- not using goggles if you want to prevent infection. Getting a virus carrying droplet into your eye will still infect you.
- touching the outside of the worn face mask. Virus carrying droplets will accumulate there.
Second, buy cheap facemasks here and replace them often. Wash your hands before you put on a new face mask!
Third, buy safety goggles here or here if you are not wearing glasses. Wash your safety goggles and your hands before you put the safety goggles on!
Fourth, go and see a doctor as soon as possible in case you start to feel unwell. Effective life support and active treatment of complications are of utmost importance to effectively reduce the severity of your condition.
Sixth, stay away from others if you are not feeling well. Do this as a precaution in order to protect other people from getting infected.
Seventh, prepare yourself for being quarantined by setting up your laptop such that you can do your work remotely.