According to Wang Guangfa, a Chinese respiratory specialist, the Wuhan coronavirus could possibly infect us through our eyes. Here is what we know so far, and what we can do about it.
Wuhan Coronavirus = NOT Influenza
First, let’s get this straight. The Wuhan coronavirus is different from the influenza virus that causes yearly outbreaks all over the world. They may have similar symptoms, but they are two different virus families.
The influenza A viruses that cause seasonal flu pandemics vary from 80 to 120 nanometers in diameter, with the smaller viruses adopting an elliptical shape.
The coronavirus, of which the Wuhan coronavirus is just one of seven known to infect humans, has a helical capsid that measures about 120 nanometers in diameter.
The Wuhan coronavirus is new and has no vaccine, and the best way to avoid being infected is by keeping our hands clean and using surgical masks or N95 respirators.
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Wang Guangfa : Infected By The Wuhan Coronavirus Despite Precautions
Wang Guangfa, a respiratory specialist from Peking University First Hospital in Beijing, was the first to discuss the possibility of being infected by the Wuhan coronavirus through the eyes.
That’s because he was actually infected by the Wuhan coronavirus, even though he was highly vigilant and wore N95 respirators while visiting patients.
Wang became infected after visiting fever clinics and temporary isolation wards in Wuhan, but he was diagnosed with the Wuhan coronavirus after he returned to Beijing.
“At that time we were highly vigilant and wore N95 masks,” he said. “But then I suddenly realised that we didn’t wear protective glasses.”
When he returned to Beijing, his left eye developed conjunctivitis, and he came down with a fever and catarrh two to three hours later.
He initially thought he had the flu but anti-flu treatments proved ineffective, so he took the test for 2019-nCoV and was confirmed to have been infected by the Wuhan coronavirus..
Wang Guangfa : I Was Infected Through My Eyes
According to Wang Guangfa, the most likely explanation was that the Wuhan coronavirus entered his body through his eyes.
That appears to be a serious possibility, although it is not known if he was infected by droplets from coughing patients, or he accidentally rubbed his eyes with contaminated hands after leaving the wards and clinics.
But Chinese healthcare workers who are directly handling patients infected with Wuhan coronavirus, or suspected of being infected, are already wearing protective glasses.
Li Lanjuan, a member of the National Health Commission’s senior-level expert panel, told Beijing Youth Daily that only medical staff needed to wear protective glasses given that they had direct contact with fever patients, but ordinary people only needed to wear face masks.
What Should We Do?
Based on what is currently known, face masks (note : surgical masks, not fashion masks) are effective at reducing the risks of being infected by the Wuhan coronavirus from strangers in a public place.
Just make sure you wear your face mask correctly, and keep your hands clean by washing with soap and water!
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Only those who are in direct contact with a patient will require protective eyewear. We will update this article when we know more.
But if you are in an affected area, and one of your family members may be infected with the Wuhan coronavirus, you should consider wearing protective eyewear as a precaution.
There is no need to purchase specialised medical eyewear. Just use whatever you have at home – workman’s protective glasses, spectacles, sunglasses or even swimming googles.
Where To Buy Surgical Masks / Protective Glasses?
Before you rush out to buy surgical masks, please make sure they are proper 3-layer surgical masks, and not 2-ply face masks or fashion masks. Here are some online purchase options :
If you really want a cheap, cool-looking protective glasses that cover both ocular orbits, this is what I’m using – the Honeywell A700 safety glasses.
Here are some online purchase options if you are interested to get the Honeywell A700 as well :
- Malaysia : RM 11-15.99 | RM 19.90
- Singapore : S$5.62 | S$8.80
- US : $6.61 | S$6.79 | $7.37 | $7.69 | $7.84 | $7.98
- UK : £2.09 | £7.49
- AU : A$12.03 | A$12.42 | A$21.39 | A$33.96
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