Awareness: Chinese coronavirus outbreak

An awareness post on the new Chinese coronavirus nCov-2019

Worries are spreading across not just East-Asia but globally

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

There are increasing worries spreading across Japan regarding the new Chinese coronavirus (names nCoV-2019) and its ability to infect both animals and humans. Specifically, the worry is about the virus’s ability to become a pandemic.

To highlight the seriousness of this issue, Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe has stated that “please take every possible precaution,” which has lead to a public awareness campaign on this issue (it has appeared not just on Japanese news but day-time television as well) and a full traveller screening programme at each Japanese airport.

Current estimates suggest that around 400 people are known to have contracted nCov-2019 and the current death-toll is (at time of writing) at 4 deaths- but why is the global community (and indeed Japan) so concerned about this virus? The answer is simple- uncontrollability.

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Chinese new year is soon to be upon us, which is the time in which most Chinese people travel- both nationally and internationally- which has the potential to ignite a new global pandemic. Global pandemics are most often caused when: a disease can be easily spread across the world with high movement and when the disease has been shown to cross the species barrier.

These prerequisites have already been met in nCov-2019. Initial cases first appeared in Wuhan, China in a market with high frequency animal contact and since this time, the diseases have been spread from person-to-person.

Chinese authorities are already taking action against this outbreak by ordering the use of facial masks in Beijing hospital, and controlling the number of people entering and leaving Wuhan (where the disease was discovered). Currently, this virus doesn’t appear to have mutated and the CDC and WHO are working on the virus but it is still early days.

Symptoms

Current reports suggest that initial symptoms mimic a common cold with some pneumonia-like symptoms. Initial symptoms include fever, cough, tightness of the chest and shortness of breath- the most concerning of which is the tightness of chest- which initially can be easily misdiagnosed.

Current countries with nCov-2019 patients are China, Japan (the person had just returned from Wuhan), Korea, the USA (a traveller had visited Wuhan), Thailand, and more regionally in China from Beijing, to Taiwan.

The international community is highly aware of the potential for this and infection disease control procedures are underway both in China and around the world to deal with the threat of this virus.

Advise

The best advice is to be prepared- use masks in Asia (especially in China) but don’t worry- there is nothing major (currently). Life in Wuhan is ongoing without interruption- life before this virus was discovered. While this virus has the potential to become serious, measures are already underway.

If you have been travelling in China and are experiencing symptoms, please call your doctor- and get their advice. Don’t just turn up in person. While you could just have influenza, they may want to take precautions. There is no data to suggest if some people are more susceptible than others or if it is more damaging to people with compromised immune systems.

Current screening procedures at airports just involve walking in front of a thermal camera. If there is anything wrong- you may be taken to an isolation area until tests are performed. From there, a treatment plan may be started or general health advice given.

Thank you for reading and happy and safe exploring.

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Resolution: not a sprint…

Part of the resolution series looking at the entire journey- not just the start!

Photo by Breakingpic on Pexels.com

Japan, it seems, does lend its self to the concept of New Year’s resolutions due to the fact it is an obsession here. There are many products which promise to help with one’s health, or elixirs that “are a ground breaking innovation that well help with X and Y and you won’t believe that you have live without it before”- like every other country!

But no matter how much you are willing to change, it is important to note that “good things come to those who wait”- the irony of using a beer tag line to promote healthy living is not lost on me. However, that it is important to know that a New Year’s resolution is a promise to change your lifestyle- for the better and from now on.

The point is, no matter if you are constantly failing to keep your New’s years resolution, if you are determined to see through to the end, you must work on it each and every day. That is not to say that if your goal is to develop the body of your dreams, it means going to the gym each and every day- not is an impossibility when just starting out.

No matter where you are in your ‘New Year’s resolution journey’, it is important to know where you are up to and what you actually know. What I will always recommend is research (and research allowed me to fix my laptop- which means I can use more than 1 tab at once- woot!).

Researching allows you to know what is (in this case) good for you and what is not- is eating pizza forbidden if you want to lose weight and gain mass? No, but you need to eat everything in moderation and ensure that you are otherwise healthy. Is drinking soda bad and thus forbidden? Yes, but you can still enjoy the occasional glass of soda in moderation.

Having the opportunity to know or learn to know what is good and bad is invaluable and will help. It is not yet 2 weeks into the New Year- so don’t worry if everything has gone awry- it does not matter. As long as you are trying and intending to change- that is all that matters. If your resolution takes 6 months to really start- it takes 6 months- don’t worry about it.

If you move to Japan in that time, don’t worry they have (seemingly) an entire culture surrounding health living and a health life style- from gyms, to products, to well-being services etc.

It’s going to be interesting once I move back to the UK and I believe that it’ll take more effort in being healthy and maintaining my now healthy lifestyle- perhaps that should me my New Year’s resolution: preparing for my life post-repatriation (starting on April first).

Don’t worry- I will not stop posting about Japan- I have so many experiences and things to research and post that content will not be stopping anytime soon.

Thanks for reading and keep up the resolution. Happy exploring.

Resolution and awareness: vaccination

An awareness and resolution post, looking into global vaccinations including proving Karens of the world wrong! Also, vaccinaion programs in Japan

While scrolling through social media, there have been several posts suggesting that a pandemic is to occur this decade. There have been major epidemics and thus pandemics in the 1720s, 1820s, 1920s with the 2020s to possibly follow. But what disease if any would be the probable cause?

Firstly: terminology. An epidemic is when a disease affects a great number of people in an area or country. A pandemic is a global epidemic- simple. Previous examples of pandemic diseases are SARS, avian influenza, Ebola, small pox, yellow fever, TB, leprosy, Spanish flu etc.- there are an awful lot of examples.

While many countries are doing a lot to combat this, there is certainly more that can be done. However, not every country is able to prepare to a similar level- which is part of the problem.

In some LMICs (lower to middle income countries), are more prone to starting a pandemic due to very high contact with animals along with poor access to medical facilities. In addition to this, these countries are usually unable to invest large amounts into epidemic preparedness.

There are many challenges facing the global community with regard to pandemics and one of the more worrying examples is increased antibiotic resistance which a disease can develop if, for example, a person does not complete a dose of antibiotics correctly, if antibiotics are over prescribed and if the disease mutates.

I do have to note that antibiotics will NOT work for viruses at all- if you have influenza antibiotics are as useful as tick tacks- but at least tic tacks will freshen your breath.

Immunization 101

One thing that increases the risk of an ID (infectious disease) mutating is lack of immunization. Immunization helps protect a population from a disease by introducing them to either a dead or ‘live’ disease via an injection. The body’s immune system then works to counter act the disease and produces antibodies which are then ‘saved’ in the body. Some time later, if a person comes into contact with the actual disease, their body is already ready and prepared to fight off this disease.

Many people suffer or die from preventable diseases because they are not immunized. A 2015 case in Japan featured a 10-month-old boy who caught Japanese encephalitis and although he did live, his arms and legs have been severely paralysed. There are many cases of people catching and dying from measles.

The elephant in the room

Some people (we’ll call the Karens) are against immunization because of several reasons including: possible side effects including the adverse medical reactions, the introduction of harmful chemicals (including aluminium and mercury), and there being “no point” in being immunized because the diseases that people are immunized from are ‘no longer a risk’.

I know that I have set up a straw-man argument against the Karens of the world but I shall enjoy using this argument flaw method regardless.

Number 1: immunizations cause adverse medical effects

Most people will cite the study that “showed” a link between the MMR vaccine and autism. Simply put there is NO link between the two- in any way. The review into this study was produced by the WHO (World Health Organization) who’s only bias is the promotion of global health.

Other people may look at the “link” between the DTP vaccine and SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) and while it seems to be directly related to one another, this is again false. If there were a true link between the 2 factors, the number of SIDS deaths would be astronomically higher. The SIDS deaths were by chance but people have a need point to a cause of death and the vaccine was chosen.

In fact, several studies have shown that the DTP vaccine actually reduces the chance of SIDS deaths.

Number 2: the introduction of harmful chemicals

Many Karens will also say that “vaccines contain harmful chemicals that will harm me/ my child, so I’m not going to vaccinate. It’s my choice.”

The first question for the Karens of the world is: do you drink from soda cans, or live near a road, or smoke? Yes, you already take in 4 times the aluminium that is allowed in a vaccine.

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Other harmful chemicals that may exist within a vaccine usually only exist in trace amounts which help with the bodies autoimmune response and only in certain vaccinations. However, using mercury and formaldehyde as examples- mercury acting as a preservative- in tiny amounts and in a safe compound- and formaldehyde used to render certain viruses such as polio inactive for use in vaccines, more harmful chemicals are ingested in everyday life than via vaccines.

If we look at mercury, and ignoring the fact it has been eliminated from most vaccines since 2001, 69 mcg of mercury is ingested in 1 can of tuna while 25 mcg of mercury is taken in with one influenza injection.

Regarding formaldehyde (the highly carcinogenic, environmentally toxic chemical used in embalming), is extremely common in the environment. Most apples contain more formaldehyde than in the “Hepatitis B, DTaP and polio vaccines together”- a little FYI, this includes organic apples as formaldehyde is a naturally occurring chemical and the human body produces it as part of metabolism which is then converted into carbon dioxide and exhaled.

Pont 3: there is no point in vaccinations as the diseases that are being vaccinated against are no longer a threat

This one is the easiest to disprove to the Karens of the world and can be done with just one world: measles.

Need a bit more? The WHO reports on disease prevalence and outbreaks globally and has reported such trends as the highest measles’ prevalence are in countries with low vaccination rates and there are ongoing out breaks (Angola, Cameroon, Chad, Kazakhstan, Nigeria, Philippines, South Sudan, Sudan and Thailand). While the data from 2019 is still provisional (to be finalized by July 2020), there were some serious trends that appeared when comparing the first 6 months of 2018 and 2019.

  • The US reported over 90,000 cases of measles at the start of 2019- the highest in 25 years
  • From 2018 to 2019 measles prevalence has increased:
    • 900% in the WHO Africa region
    • 120% in the European region
    • 50% in the Eastern Mediterranean region
    • 230% in the western Pacific region
  • Additionally, the WHO reports that fewer than 10% of measles cases are actually reported.

The final jolly bit will be just one number- the number of people that died from measles in 2018. Please remember the measles is mostly a preventable disease- so most of these deaths if not all were preventable.

More than 140,000 (…)”

https://www.who.int/news-room/detail/05-12-2019-more-than-140-000-die-from-measles-as-cases-surge-worldwide

So Karens of the world, there is no reason not to be vaccinated- not even ignorance will save you!

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Vaccination in Japan

There are 2 types of vaccines in Japan: voluntary and routine vaccinations. Routine vaccinations are free if you take your child to a clinic within the time frame. Some voluntary vaccines may be routine vaccines in some prefectures.

Voluntary vaccinations are paid for out-of-pocket- and there is quite the list (see below). It is also important to note that out of the 15 vaccinations, 5 are ‘live’ vaccines which depending on pre-existing medical conditions, you may not be able to take.

Routine VaccinationsVoluntary Vaccinations
RotavirusHaemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)
MumpsPneumococcal Conjugate (PCV13)
InfluenzaHepatitus B virus (HBV) universial vaccine
Diphtheria, Pertussis, Tetanus, Polio (DPT-IPV, IPV)
BCG
Measles, Rubella (MR)
Varicella
Japanese Encephalitis
Diphtheria, Tetanus (DT)
Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)

The ministry of health has a vaccination programme in place for children under 1 to be inoculated free of charge, and they’ll receive 19 shots in total (including boosters) but not every family is able to go to a clinic regally and if an appointment is missed, the remaining shots must be paid for by the parent.

An additional problem regarding vaccinations in Japan is the lack of combined vaccinations. In the UK, most children receive the MMR vaccine but in Japan the Mumps vaccine is routine while the MR vaccine (measles and Rubella) is voluntary. One way to increase total vaccination rates would be to have a greater availability to combination vaccines but Japan wants to protect domestic vaccination production rather than import vaccines which are seen by many to be better.

A full vaccination schedule (in English) is available on the further information page.

Thank you for reading and happy exploring.

Resolution: drinking water just after waking up

Is drinking water just after waking up good for you?

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Today is January second and if you are already hard at work on your New Year’s resolution: congratulations. If you are yet to start of are struggling, don’t worry. A New year’s resolution is a promise to change your life style- it is a marathon NOT a sprint.

After starting to establish a sleep schedule, another small habit to add is drinking water in the morning- just after waking up.

Drinking water upon waking up has several reported benefits even if some of them are more placebolike in nature. Several sources state that drinking water on waking up will help your metabolism, help your concentration levels, help you eat less and help flush out toxins. But does it really help?

It is likely when waking up you may be dehydrated or in the early stages of dehydration. Dehydration does affect concentration levels so rehydrating does help with cognitive ability. Fun fact, the myth that hydration levels can be judged by urine colour is mostly a myth- there are many other things to take into account.

Next, does drinking water help with your metabolism or help flush out toxins? Simply put, there is no direct evidence to support any of this but many sources have claimed that drinking water on waking up has helped them with starting a healthy lifestyle and maintaining body weight.

What is the point then? I drink water in the morning because I have found it useful- as it helps reduce my appetite and eat less- but it is not exactly a scientific study.

This is but one small step towards a healthier lifestyle and its benefit is something you need to decide yourself. I would recommend drinking water with a slice of lemon in it for extra taste, but that is my preference.

Thank you for reading and heathy exploring.