DOS Update #3 - Black cats, white cats and the placebo effect

dos-update-03-isolation-rm
Since January 10, patients with fever, flu symptoms and a history of recent travel to mainland China are put a “negative-pressure isolation room” at UHC, which prevents contaminated air from escaping the room. / Photo: UHC
___________________________________________________________________

30 January 2020

Dear Students:

Changes at University Health Centre (UHC)

Since Jan 10, UHC has put in place additional preventive measures such as having fever checks at the main entrance, including students seeing counsellors.

Staff who are conducting the temperature screening don full Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – cap, N95 mask, gown and gloves.

You will also find that you have to follow a certain flow once inside the clinic – this is to minimise possible cross infection. There is now only one entrance and exit at the clinic.

Patients with fever, flu symptoms and a history of recent travel to mainland China are directed to a “negative-pressure isolation room” (see pix) which prevents contaminated air from escaping the room. In there, a duty doctor in full PPE, will attend to them.

The room is disinfected after each consultation.

Oddities

Patients’ requests are also changing. In recent days, students have been asking for unnecessary chest X-rays and blood tests to check if they have contracted the coronavirus.

Please don’t do either of these things.

Diagnostic test kits specific to the coronavirus are only available at local hospitals. 

And X-rays or blood tests for other conditions will be ordered only if deemed necessary by the doctor.

Many students have also demanded face masks at UHC.

Patients who do not display respiratory symptoms do not receive a face mask at UHC. To be clear, UHC does not give out masks – and unless you are sick, you don’t need one.

What we know about the Wuhan Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)

Here’s what we know about the Wuhan virus so far. Both SARS and 2019-nCOV belong to the coronavirus family of viruses. As of 30 Jan 2020, 7:47 a.m., there are 7,711 confirmed cases of 2019-nCoV reported in China.

The case-fatality (CF) rate (or those who die) from the Wuhan virus hovers around 3%. In comparison, the CF rate for SARS was about 10%. However, we do not know if the infected person is infectious during the incubation or not. Fever may not be a reliable sign of the virus.

In short, there’s a lot we don’t know about the virus. But controlling its spread requires both public health and medical measures as well as an ability to discern between real or fake news and take the appropriate actions.

The power of placebo

Still, there is room for personal talismans. My friends believe in the power of essential oils and over the past three days, I have been given five bottles of Thieves – a mix of oils including Lemon, Eucalyptus and Rosemary.

The story behind the concoction dates to a 15th Century plague where a group of thieves robbed the corpses of plague victims but never contracted the disease themselves.

Legend has it that the thieves had applied the oils on themselves to ward off the deadly disease. In their minds, they believe themselves to be protected from the plague. Apparently it worked. It could be the oils, it could be the believing – but I thought, “What’s the harm?”

And drippled five drops into the SSC diffuser.

It smells pretty good, but like the UHC, don’t visit us unless you have to. Stay safe, have fun in your classes, and go out into the sun. It’s a great disinfectant. 

A/P Leong Ching
NUS Dean of Students

dos-update-03-placebo
We are diffusing a “virus super-killer” essential oil at the Student Service Centre at YIH. Or is it just a placebo? / Photo: Sean Tan, Head, Student Organisations, OSA
___________________________________________________________________

With the help of doctors at UHC #QOTD (Question of the Day)


Question: “I am not feeling well.  How do I know if I have coronavirus?”

Answer: Symptoms of coronavirus 2019-nCoV can be similar to other viral illnesses.  These may include fever, cough, sore throat and breathing difficulties. You can come to the University Health Centre (UHC) or the nearest medical clinic.  To minimise spread of any virus, please wear a mask once you feel unwell, as you go to the clinic.

Question: “Can I request for an X-ray or blood test at the University Health Centre to check if I have the coronavirus?”

Answer: NO! Diagnostic test kits specific to the coronavirus are only available at local hospitals.  X-rays or blood tests for other conditions will be ordered only if deemed necessary by the doctor.

Question: “Is the coronavirus test kit available at the University Health Centre?”

Answer: No, diagnostic test kits specific to the coronavirus are only available at local hospitals. 

Question: “Will face masks be given out to every patient at the University Health Centre?”

Answer: Face masks will be given to patients who have fever and respiratory symptoms. Face masks will not be issued to other patients. 

Question: “Are face masks and hand sanitisers available for purchase at the University Health Centre?”

Answer: No lah.
The Government announced today that all 1.37 million households in Singapore will be given four surgical masks each from February 1, at the 89 community centres and 654 residents' committee centres. (Source: The Straits Times, Jan 30, 2020)

Question: “How do I know if I need to be quarantined?  Do I need to come to the University Health Centre to obtain my Leave of Absence (LOA)?”

Answer: No. Go to your respective Hall Master, Faculty or Department. You should only go to UHC if you are sick.

Question: “I am due for my annual health screening, medical examination and vaccination, should I still visit University Health Centre during this time?

Answer: Please defer non-essential visits to the clinic.

Question: “What is UHC policy on visitors accompanying a patient to the University Health Centre during this period?”

Answer: We don’t allow accompanying visitors to prevent cross-infection.

Question: “I have been in contact with a person who has a travel history to mainland China; should I seek medical consultation at the University Health Centre?”

Answer: If you are well and have no symptoms, no need!

Question: “If I am unwell and living on campus, where should I seek medical help after office hours?”

Answer: Accident and Emergency Unit at the National University Hospital (NUH). 

Question: “If I have an appointment with the specialist/counsellor at University Health Centre, should I keep to my appointment?”

Answer: If unwell, don’t. If well, please keep the appointment.

________________________

Read More: 


DOS Update #4 -- A Thousand Words (31 January 2020)

________________________

Archive: 

DOS Update #1 -- 28 January 2020
DOS Update #2 -- The Proximity of Noses (29 January 2020)