SINGAPORE — In a Facebook post on February 16, former NMP Shiao-yin Kuik shared advise to citizens regarding proper sanitation and protection amidst the COVID-19 outbreak. The material she shared debunked the use of vodka and other alcoholic spirits as an effective sanitiser, going directly against prior advise shared by Temasek Holdings’ CEO and wife of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Ho Ching.
With the COVID-19 virus spreading rapidly throughout 30 countries and territories so far, people have been taking as many personal precautions and protective measures as possible to minimise the risk of infection, from using surgical masks to constantly sanitising their hands and mobile phones.
After Associate Professor Kenneth Mak, who is the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) Director of Medical Services, announced that only those who are unwell and at high risk (such as the elderly and the obese) should wear masks, the city-nation was thrown into confusion. Most were sceptical of Mr Mak’s further advise, which was that certain measures, like washing one’s hands thoroughly with hot water and soap and sanitising often-handled items such as mobile phones and door handles, are more effective at stopping the spread of the coronavirus than constant mask-wearing.
Trying to navigate seemingly-contradicting tips is just one of the challenges that Singaporeans face on a daily basis amidst the COVID-19 outbreak, which has infected a total of 84 persons in Singapore and 75,761 all over the world (as of Feb 20, 7pm). There is currently a shortage of medical supplies and protective equipment in many parts of the globe.
On January 30, Ho Ching, who is an avid Facebook poster and has quite the following, shared information on alternatives for hand sanitiser.
The post outlined possible substitutes that people can use in the absence of proper hand sanitiser:
“If we can’t get hand sanitisers, we can improvise with most mouthwash or antiseptic mouth wash esp[ecially] those that contain chlorhexidine (these typically have pink colours), rubbing alcohol, or if we desperate, we can use a strong alcohol such as brandy, maotai or vodka!
Mrs Ho then advised people to “rub thoroughly including the back of hand and between fingers, and let dry naturally”.
“At least 40% alcohol will do,” she added in her post.
Most expensive disinfectant or hand sanitiser!Maotai typically has 50+% alcohol!Vodka, anyone?If we can’t get hand…
Some netizens respectfully posted their opposing opinions to Mrs Ho’s suggestion:
The Fawn Labs article cited in the last comment, which debunks myths surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak, was also shared recently by Shiao-yin Kuik.
The former Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) posted some information on Facebook on Feb 16 for those who are considering DIY-ing their own sanitisers:
“If you are considering making your own hand sanitiser, this is a good read.
“If it seems like you cannot get your hands on a professionally-made sanitiser, you are better off just putting hand soap in your little bottles and use that to keep washing your hands,” Ms Shiao-yin wrote.
She continued her post by sharing two write-ups on the issue of making one’s own hand sanitiser.
If you are considering making your own hand sanitiser, this is a good read. It seems like if you cannot get your hands…
“Alcohols like Isoprophyl Alcohol or Ethyl Alcohol only works in certain percentages to be active against viruses. Using them in too low percentages make the products ineffective. When the alcohols are incorporated excessively, they may cause dryness and irritation to skin if not formulated with other selected ingredients to protect and moisturise the hands.” — from Fawn Labs’ article.
There are many posts circulating on social media about making your own hand sanitisers and sprays for the prevention of the coronavirus spread. Ms Shiao-yin echoed Fawn Labs, reiterating that many of these formulations are not done effectively and may even cause severe side effects and health issues.
“A simple way to try and prevent the spread of this virus is practicing good personal hygiene. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. That is considered more effective than using a Hand Sanitiser. So do bear that in mind,” read the Fawn Labs post.
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