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Clean, sanitize and disinfect

Understand the difference between clean, sanitize and disinfect and the best situation to use each method.

Cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting. These words are being used a lot right now by the media, schools and even in conversations among friends, but do we know the difference? Mixing up these terms can result in poor cleaning practices and the spread of illness. Having a better understanding of these three words may help you prevent someone from becoming ill.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cleaning removes germs, dirt and impurities from surfaces and objects. Cleaning is done by using soap, detergent or another cleaning product and water, then physically scrubbing to remove germs from the surface. It is important to remember cleaning does not kill germs, mold or fungi; it just removes visible, dirt. Before you can sanitize or disinfect, the dirt and debris must be removed.

Sanitizing reduces the number of germs on a surface to safe levels, according to health officials. This is done by using a commercial sanitizing product, such as chlorine bleach mixed with water. It is important to mix the sanitizing solution at the proper ratio of bleach to water, if it is too strong, it can cause a chemical contamination, if it is too weak, it won’t kill the germs. It is also important to let the solution stand on the surface for a recommended period of time.

The standard solution for a bleach and water sanitizing mix is one teaspoon bleach to one gallon of water or 1/4 teaspoon bleach to one quart of water (in a spray bottle). This is based on concentrated household bleach containing 8.25% sodium hypochlorite. The concentration is 50–90 ppm and requires a contact time of 30 seconds. This solution can be tested to ensure the concentration’s strength by purchasing sanitizer test strips at a food service store. If sanitizer is stored in a spray bottle, it should be tested daily to ensure the strength is still within the range of 50 – 90 ppm.

Disinfecting kills the germs on surfaces. This is done by using a stronger solution. If bleach is used, the solution recommended is 1/4 to 3/4 cup of bleach to 1 gallon of water with a contact time of 2 minutes. This process can further lower the risk of spreading infection.

Should you disinfect all the time to ensure more germs are killed? This probably isn’t the best idea. Chemicals are very strong and can have adverse results on health. Using the strongest concentration all the time can lead to skin irritation, lung problems and other issues. Remember, cleaning should always have the priority over sanitizing or disinfecting.

As you clean, remember to change your water frequently to avoid further spread of dirt or germs. In most situations sanitizing would follow cleaning. Always read the directions on the product you are using. You should only disinfect when there are a large number of germs present. For example, if someone has been sick in your home (vomit or diarrhea) or restaurant, or you’ve spilled a large amount of raw juices from a meat, poultry or seafood product on the floor, this would warrant cleaning and disinfecting.

 

 

What is Social Distancing and Why is it Important?

As cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) continue to spread like wildfire across the globe, the term “social distancing” seems to be flooding social media feeds and news stories. So what is social distancing and why is it important?

Social Distancing Stops the Spread of Disease

Some viruses – like the virus that causes COVID-19 – spread easily, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Social distancing puts space between individuals. If someone is sick and there are no people around, a virus cannot spread.

“Social distancing means we are doing our best to stay away from people so as to limit the spread of coronavirus,” says UNC family medicine physician Sarah Ruff, MD. “ “It’s really important because if everyone gets coronavirus at once and ends up in the hospital at the same time, our health care system would be overwhelmed.  We need to ‘flatten the curve.’”

How to Practice Social Distancing

Tactics for social distancing include canceling large social gatherings, such as sports events and concerts, as well as closing schools, bars and restaurants, and having people work from home instead of an office. But it also means limiting any interaction with anyone beyond your immediate family, with whom you live.

Any time you go out and are around other people, you’re exponentially increasing the contact you have with the world and the possibility of transmitting the virus, Dr. Ruff says.

“Social distancing means staying within your own home with the people that are within your family and not having even one other family over to your house,” Dr. Ruff says. “Not even one play date or letting your kids play basketball with the neighborhood kids or at the park. Because all of those contacts are exponentially increasing the chance that you are transmitting and spreading this virus.”

What to Do If You Must Leave Home

While working from home is recommended, some people don’t have that option. And you may have to run out to the grocery store or pharmacy. In these cases, practice vigilant hand hygiene and stay at least 6 feet away from other people.

For example, as a physician, Dr. Ruff has to go into work, “so I take the stairs so I am not in an elevator,” Dr. Ruff says. “If you do touch something that other people have touched, immediately wash your hands with soap and water as soon as you have that opportunity, especially before you touch your face.”

In addition, many stores, including Dollar General, Whole Foods and Target, have announced that the elderly customers, the most at-risk group, may shop first thing in the morning, before other customers, to try to reduce their exposure to the virus.

Practice Social Distancing Even If You’re Not at Risk

While those at highest risk seem to be those over age 60 and those with chronic health conditions, the best thing everyone can do is adhere to strict social distancing measures as outlined by the CDC and your local government, Dr. Ruff says.

“Even if you feel like you’re young and healthy and think you’re probably not going to get sick, we all have parents, grandparents and elderly neighbors in our circles and we are doing this for them,” Dr. Ruff says. “Because if you give it to them, they could get really sick. So even if you’re not worried about yourself, there’s somebody in your life who you want to protect.”

COVID-19 and face masks: To wear or not to wear?

Many countries around the world recommend that people wear masks in public as part of their strategy to curb the pandemic. We look at why some people do not wear masks and discuss what scientific evidence says about wearing them.

All data and statistics are based on publicly available data at the time of publication. Some information may be out of date.  for the most recent information on the COVID-19 outbreak.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, scientists and other experts have debated whether the general public should wear face masks and whether these masks should be medical grade masks or homemade face coverings.

From early April onwards, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States recommended that people wear homemade face coverings in places where physical distancing is impossible.

Other countries, such as the United Kingdom and Germany, have made wearing a face covering on public transport mandatory.

The World Health Organization (WHO) long shied away from such recommendations, maintaining that only healthcare professionals, those who currently have the new coronavirus, as well as those caring from them at home, wear medical grade masks.

But in early June, the WHO released a list of recommendations suggesting the most appropriate types of masks to wear in a variety of settings. This included the use of non-medical masks in crowded places and public transport.

Yet, not every place or person has adopted the use of face coverings.

In this Special Feature article, we explore four reasons why some people choose not to wear masks. We look at the claims behind these in the context of the scientific evidence that is available today.

Stay informed with live updates on the current COVID-19 outbreak and visit our coronavirus hub for more advice on prevention and treatment.

1. Masks offer no protection to the wearer

Claims: Masks are not an effective way of protection from the new coronavirus, only N95 are, and masks have disclaimers saying they cannot prevent someone from acquiring the new coronavirus

These claims represent the essence of the argument around whether to wear a mask. The primary aim of asking the general public to wear masks where physical distancing is not possible is not to protect the wearer.

Instead, this public health measure aims to stop people with a SARS-CoV-2 infection who are asymptomatic or presymptomatic from transmitting the virus. Experts refer to this as source control.

Rather than protecting the wearer, source control seeks to block the release of virus-laden droplets into the air that surrounds the person wearing the mask.

Several research papers have shown that simple face coverings can reduce the number of droplets, and perhaps some aerosols, to some extent.

2. Evidence is lacking

Claim: There is no scientific evidence to say that masks are effective

Prof. Trisha Greenhalgh from the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom has voiced her support about using face masks in several prominent research journals, such as The BMJ.

“The argument that we should not recommend face coverings because there are no published experiments is out of step with other public health policy on infection control in general and [COVID-19] in particular,” she recently wrote in the Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice.

“Mathematical modeling suggests that a face covering that is 60% effective at blocking viral transmission and is worn by 60% of the population will reduce R0 to below 1.0.”

– Prof. Trisha Greenhalgh

R0 is the technical term for the basic reproduction number, which refers to the number of other people to whom a single person can transmit infection.

When the R0 is below 1, each person with SARS-CoV-2 will transmit the virus to less than one other person, reducing the overall number of cases in the population over time.

One recent study in BMJ Global Health looked at transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in 124 families in which at least one member had COVID-19. The data showed that face masks were “79% effective in reducing transmission” if the person with COVID-19 wore them before they developed symptoms.

3. Masks may increase risk of infection

Claim: Masks can become contaminated very quickly, and every time the wearer breathes in, they inhale contaminants

Masks can be a source of infection for the person wearing them, according to the WHO.

A 2017 study involving 16 healthcare professionals showed that self-contamination was common when the volunteers were putting on and removing medical-grade personal protective equipment.

The CDC recommend that people do not touch their face covering while wearing a face mask in public and that they wash their hands if they do so accidentally.

Medical-grade masks block microorganisms from reaching the wearer’s nose and mouth. It is not clear whether this applies to homemade face coverings as well.

In a recent study, which as not yet undergone peer review, researchers tested different fabrics to see how many different sized droplets would pass through.

“We found that most home fabrics substantially block droplets, even as a single layer. With two layers, blocking performance can reach that of a surgical mask without significantly compromising breathability,” the authors wrote in the manuscript.

Claim: Masks can lead to pneumonia or other lung infections

There is no evidence indicating that masks increase the wearer’s risk of developing pneumonia or other bacterial, viral, or fungal lung infections.

The WHO acknowledge that if a person wears the same mask for a long time, microorganisms may grow on the fabric.

The CDC recommend that a person removes the face covering once they return home and washes it before using it again.

“All masks should be changed if wet or visibly soiled; a wet mask should not be worn for an extended period of time. […] Either discard the mask or place it in a sealable bag where it is kept until it can be washed and cleaned,” the WHO advise.

4. Masks might harm the wearer

Claim: Masks limit oxygen intake and increase carbon dioxide (CO2), and they increase the potential risk of CO2 poisoning

One small study looked at 39 volunteers who had end stage renal disease and received dialysis during the SARS pandemic in 2003. The researchers found that 70% of participants who wore an N95 respirator for 4 hours during treatment experienced a fall in oxygen levels.

Another study found no differences in the oxygen levels in 10 intensive care nurses who wore N95 respirators for their shifts.

Carbon dioxide poisoning is very rare, and experts mostly associate it with accidents that occur in confined spaces, such as ships and mines.

Hypercapnia, or hypercarbia, occurs when a person has too much carbon dioxide in their blood. Hyperventilation and some lung conditions can lead to hypercapnia. It can manifest as dizziness and headaches at the mild end of the spectrum, and confusion, seizures, and coma at the severe end.

Research from 2006 found that during the SARS pandemic in 2003, healthcare workers who wore N95 respirators for more than 4 hours at a time were more likely to develop headaches.

A representative from the CDC recently spoke to Reuters about hypercapnia: “The CO2 will slowly build up in the mask over time. However, the level of CO2 likely to build up in the mask is mostly tolerable to people exposed to it. You might get a headache, but you most likely [would] not suffer the symptoms observed at much higher levels of CO2. […] It is unlikely that wearing a mask will cause hypercapnia.”

Claim: Masks are dangerous for people with certain health conditions (COPD, asthma), as they may restrict breathing

The WHO acknowledge that people living with asthma, chronic respiratory conditions, or breathing problems may experience difficulties when wearing face masks.

The CDC recommend that anyone who has trouble breathing should not wear a face covering.

To wear a mask or not?

Whether a person decides to follow public health advice and wear a mask is down to individual choice, at least in countries where wearing masks is not mandatory.

This might never be a clear-cut topic, and there may be no resolution for those who prefer to consult a large body of well-conducted scientific studies to help them make their decisions.

Some experts think that conducting randomized control studies to tease out the exact contribution that masks may make to slowing the spread of SARS-CoV-2 is likely impractical.

Some people may find wearing a mask a straightforward adjustment to their daily lives and will readily wear a mask when venturing out to crowded places, doing the groceries, or visiting friends.

For some people, such as small children and people with breathing problems, wearing a mask is not practical or possible. However, these people may still benefit if others wear them.

7 Surprising Benefits of Exercise

1. Exercise is great for your brain.

It’s linked to less depression, better memory and quicker learning. Studies also suggest that exercise is, as of now, the best way to prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, a major fear for many Americans.

Scientists don’t know exactly why exercise changes the structure and function of the brain, but it’s an area of active research. So far, they’ve found that exercise improves blood flow to the brain, feeding the growth of new blood vessels and even new brain cells, thanks to the protein BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor). BDNF triggers the growth of new neurons and helps repair and protect brain cells from degeneration. It may also help people focus, according to recent research.

2. You might get happier.

Countless studies show that many types of exercise, from walking to cycling, make people feel better and can even relieve symptoms of depression. Exercise triggers the release of chemicals in the brain—serotonin, norepinephrine, endorphins, dopamine—that dull pain, lighten mood and relieve stress. “For years we focused almost exclusively on the physical benefits of exercise and really have ignored the psychological and emotional benefits of being regularly active,” says Cedric Bryant, chief science officer of the American Council on Exercise.

3. It might make you age slower.

Exercise has been shown to lengthen lifespan by as much as five years. A small new study suggests that moderate-intensity exercise may slow down the aging of cells. As humans get older and their cells divide over and over again, their telomeres—the protective caps on the end of chromosomes—get shorter. To see how exercise affects telomeres, researchers took a muscle biopsy and blood samples from 10 healthy people before and after a 45-minute ride on a stationary bicycle. They found that exercise increased levels of a molecule that protects telomeres, ultimately slowing how quickly they shorten over time. Exercise, then, appears to slow aging at the cellular level.

4. It’ll make your skin look better.

Aerobic exercise revs up blood flow to the skin, delivering oxygen and nutrients that improve skin health and even help wounds heal faster. “That’s why when people have injuries, they should get moving as quickly as possible—not only to make sure the muscle doesn’t atrophy, but to make sure there’s good blood flow to the skin,” says Anthony Hackney, an exercise physiologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Train long enough, and you’ll add more blood vessels and tiny capillaries to the skin, too.

The skin also serves as a release point for heat. When you exercise, your muscles generate a lot of heat, which you have to give up to the environment so your body temperature doesn’t get too high, Hackney says. The heat in the muscle transfers to the blood, which shuttles it to the skin; it can then escape into the atmosphere.

5. Amazing things can happen in just a few minutes.

Emerging research suggests that it doesn’t take much movement to get the benefits. “We’ve been interested in the question of, How low can you go?” says Martin Gibala, an exercise physiologist at McMaster University in Ontario. He wanted to test how effective a 10-minute workout could be, compared to the typical 50-minute bout. The micro-workout he devised consists of three exhausting 20-second intervals of all-out, hard-as-you-can exercise, followed by brief recoveries. In a three-month study, he pitted the short workout against the standard one to see which was better. To his amazement, the workouts resulted in identical improvements in heart function and blood-sugar control, even though one workout was five times longer than the other. “If you’re willing and able to push hard, you can get away with surprisingly little exercise,” Gibala says. 

6. It can help you recover from a major illness.

Even very vigorous exercise—like the interval workouts Gibala is studying—can, in fact, be appropriate for people with different chronic conditions, from Type 2 diabetes to heart failure. That’s new thinking, because for decades, people with certain diseases were advised not to exercise. Now scientists know that far more people can and should exercise. A recent analysis of more than 300 clinical trials discovered that for people recovering from a stroke, exercise was even more effective at helping them rehabilitate.

Dr. Robert Sallis, a family physician at Kaiser Permanente Fontana Medical Center in California, has prescribed exercise to his patients since the early 1990s in hopes of doling out less medication. “It really worked amazingly, particularly in my very sickest patients,” he says. “If I could get them to do it on a regular basis—even just walking, anything that got their heart rate up a bit—I would see dramatic improvements in their chronic disease, not to mention all of these other things like depression, anxiety, mood and energy levels.”

7. Your fat cells will shrink.

The body uses both carbohydrates and fats as energy sources. But after consistent aerobic exercise training, the body gets better at burning fat, which requires a lot of oxygen to convert it into energy. “One of the benefits of exercise training is that our cardiovascular system gets stronger and better at delivering oxygen, so we are able to metabolize more fat as an energy source,” Hackney says. As a result, your fat cells—which produce the substances responsible for chronic low-grade inflammation—shrink, and so does inflammation.

Physical fitness linked to better brain function

The largest and most detailed study of its type concludes that there are links between physical fitness and improved cognitive performance. The researchers also show that this boost in mental powers is associated with white matter integrity.

Over recent years, there has been a great deal of research into how bodily fitness might influence the mind.

For instance, studies have concluded that physical fitness can reduce the risk of dementiarelieve depressive symptoms, and more.

There is also evidence that physical activity boosts the cognitive performance of healthy individuals, people of different ages, and participants with cognitive impairments.

Similarly, some studies have shown positive links between physical fitness and changes in brain structure.

The authors of the latest study in this field, who published their findings in Scientific Reports, note that previous studies had certain limitations.

In some cases, for instance, they did not account for variables that could play an important role.

As an example, researchers could associate low levels of physical fitness with higher blood pressure. If a study finds that high physical fitness has links with cognitive abilities, scientists could argue that in fact, it is lower blood pressure that boosts cognitive power.

The same could apply for several factors that have links with fitness, such as body mass index (BMI), blood glucose levels, and education status.

Also, most studies concentrate on only one marker of mental performance at a time, such as memory.

As the authors of the current study explain, “studies investigating associations between [physical fitness], white matter integrity, and multiple differential cognitive domains simultaneously are rare.”

A fresh look at fitness and the brain

The latest experiment, carried out by scientists from University Hospital Muenster in Germany, attempts to fill in some of the gaps. Using a large sample of healthy people, the scientists retested the links between physical fitness, brain structure, and a wide range of cognitive domains.

They also wanted to ensure that they accounted for as many confounding variables as possible. Additionally, the scientists wanted to understand whether the link between cognitive ability and physical fitness was associated with white matter integrity.

White matter in the brain relays messages between disparate parts of the brain and coordinates communication throughout the organ.

To investigate, the researchers took data from the Human Connectome Project, which includes MRI brain scans from 1,206 adults with an average age of 28.8.

Some of these participants also underwent further tests. In total, 1,204 participants completed a walking test in which they walked as quickly as they could for 2 minutes. The researchers noted the distance.

A total of 1,187 participants also completed cognitive tests. In these, the scientists assessed the volunteers’ memory, reasoning, sharpness, and judgment, among other parameters.

‘Surprising’ results

Overall, the researchers showed that individuals who performed better in the 2-minute walking test also performed significantly better in all but one of the cognitive tasks.

Importantly, this relationship was significant even after controlling for a range of factors, including BMI, blood pressure, age, education level, and sex.

The researchers also associated this cognitive improvement with higher levels of fitness with improvements in the structural integrity of white matter. The authors conclude:

“With the present work, we provide evidence for a positive relationship between [physical fitness] and both white matter microstructure as well as cognitive performance in a large sample of healthy young adults.”

“It surprised us to see that even in a young population cognitive performance decreases as fitness levels drop,” says lead researcher Dr. Jonathan Repple.

Dr. Repple continues, “We knew how this might be important in an elderly population, which does not necessarily have good health, but to see this happening in 30-year-olds is surprising.”

“This leads us to believe that a basic level of fitness seems to be a preventable risk factor for brain health.”

 

Club’s SOP

Dear members,

While we are happy to see you back at our club, please do note that social distancing practices must be observed at all times. Kindly do not gather in groups around the club floor for chit chats.

Please proceed to take your showers after your workout or group exercise classes and exit the club soonest possible.

This is part of the SOP from Majlis Keselamatan Negara and Kementerian Belia Dan Sukan.

We trust that you will adhere strictly to the SOPs in place at our club and also by the Government.

Club’s SOP

Dear members,

A quick update to our club’s SOP as follows with effect from 17.6.2020.

1. All bookings must be made 24 hours in advance by calling us at 03 2148 2626. Please provide your FULL NAME, EMAIL ADD and CONTACT NUMBER. Confirmation email will be sent to you and thereafter no changes will be allowed to date or timing.

Members must present the confirmation email to our staff for entry.

2. Each member is only allowed to book 1 slot per day.

3. For attendance to Group Exercise Classes, pre-registration will be made available 20 minutes before each class. Members are not allowed to book for 2 back to back classes, to be fair to other members. Members are advised to spray, sanitize the equipment before and after used, leave the studio, shower and quickly leave the club.

4. Our CREW will be on hand to advice you about social distancing if we observe that there is no social distancing practices between you and your friends. In doing so, our staff may also ask you to leave the club immediately if you fail to adhere to our SOP strictly.

Remember that we are all in this TOGETHER! That is why we always say that #togetherwecan #flattenthecurve !!