Articles

Qualities of Old Age that Contribute to Happiness

 August 31, 2020

Well, some theorize that there are things associated with older age that contribute to a better sense of well-being even as the body ages, such as:

  • An increase in Self-Acceptance – the older we are, the less worried we are about perfecting ourselves.  We have a tendency to hold a realistic view of our strengths and weaknesses and an attitude of acceptance toward any flaws.  Instead of constant “self-improvement,” there is a tendency to relax into who we are.
  • Understanding We Cannot Please Everyone – many of us strive to please spouses, bosses, our parents, our friends, etc.  As we age, we realize the futility of pleasing everyone.  I love the quote “I can’t give you a sure-fire formula for success, but I can give you a formula for failure:  try to please everybody all the time” (~Herbert Bayard Swope).
  • Ability to Live in the Present – it seems we spend much of our adulthood either getting over a terrible childhood or worrying about the future.  For older adults, living in the present is often easier.  Things of the past have often been accepted and resolved and the future is no longer a far-off thing to ponder, look forward to, prepare for, or fear.  Research is clear that those who live in the present are far happier than those who dwell in the past or the future.
  • Not Taking Life for Granted – in our youth, it is so easy to make other things more important than our basic happiness and joy.  We easily push aside our own joy for work, status, pleasing others, financial striving, etc.  In older age, there is a tendency to recognize how short life really is and to not only be grateful for each day, but also for whatever current health we have.
  • Wisdom – after many trials and life experiences, many older people have a view of life that includes the wisdom to know how to handle many obstacles.  Lessons learned offer older adults more ease when faced with challenges – they have acquired some mastery and skill at coping.

Adopting the above skills and attitudes in old age can make the difference between a happy retirement and an unhappy one!  Old age certainly comes with challenges like physical complaints for example.  But, this is also a time to shine and use all those “terrible learning experiences” in life to your advantage!

 

What About Physical Self-Care?

It is true that the healthier you are, the easier it is to be happy.  Who wants bad knees and stiff joints or a chronic illness?  So, one factor in happiness is to do everything possible to stay healthy.  Here are the obvious things to do:

  • Eat well
  • Sleep Well
  • Socialize
  • Exercise
  • Get Some Sun

These obvious lifelong habits promote well-being and happiness no matter what chronic diseases or other health problems you may have.  But doing everything you can to keep your habits healthy also sends yourself the message that “you matter” – which boosts our sense of self-worth.  So even if you still have stiff joints or more serious physical challenges, the simple action of taking care of yourself can boost mood even if it does not take away all your physical pain.

Just taking the time to do good things for yourself is a positive mood enhancer and treating our bodies well can help keep us in good spirits.

Activities to Achieve and Maintain Happiness in Old Age

Chemicals in the brain help keep our moods stable.  The theory is that when these chemicals are out of balance, we can go into a state of depression.  Sadly, many older people are simply prescribed medications to address these chemical imbalances without offering life-style changes that could be even better at addressing mood.

  1. Keep a Wholesome Routine:  Depression can set in when the days just sort of melt into weeks without much structure.  Having a general routine can help keep you engaged and active.  It doesn’t have to be a rigid schedule – but rather a general way of creating structure and rhythm in your life.
  2. Controlling Sleep:  Elderly people can get into poor sleep habits when napping takes the better part of a day and they find themselves unable to sleep at night.  Getting into a good sleep routine can keep you mentally healthy.
  3. Setting Goals and Checking Them Off:  Even if your goals are very small – like “walk outside for 10 minutes,” research shows that writing down your goals and then checking them off as you accomplish them can give you a sense of mastery of your life and accomplishment.  These things boost our natural happiness.
  4. Get a Change of Scenery:  Sometimes, we can feel like we are in a rut.  Planning a trip to a nearby town and acting like a tourist, visiting all the interesting sites can be some simple way to just break up that routine we talked about above!  Sometimes, a change of scenery or pace is what we need to reset and get ourselves feeling energized and motivated.
  5. The Obvious Stuff:  Exercise and eating well.  Yes, you hear about this all the time like a broken record because these things really are important and really do help!  Eating regularly is especially important for seniors who live alone and may not have the built-in motivation of dining with others to eat regularly.  Nutritional deficiencies can cause cognition and mood disturbances especially in the elderly.  Talk with a doctor about a multi-vitamin to ensure proper nutrients. And exercise doesn’t have to be rigorous to be effective.  A daily walk around the block done over time can improve stiffness, pain, and a positive mental outlook.
  6. Socializing:  Being lonely stinks for everyone.  Elders are no different.  If you are the primary caregiver, you may want to consider asking other people to come and visit with your elderly relative.  It would be even better if there were family and friends who would come on a regular basis.  This routine of visiting can be a huge benefit to someone living alone especially as it also gives a person something to look forward to.
  7. Creating Atmosphere:  Especially for homebound seniors or those with serious mobility issues, your surroundings can make a huge difference!  What about cleaning, changing the room around periodically, soft lighting, music, scents?  How can the environment be enhanced for comfort, joy, and happiness?  Dull or cluttered surroundings can be depressing.
  8. Reminiscing:  Get out those old family movies or photo albums.  Often, this can really cheer a person who is feeling blue.
  9. Get Creative with Other Activities:  Check here for ideas on movie nightsummer activiteswinter activities, and all year ideas to stay entertained and engaged.

We all want to be happy and joyful.  For some, it is harder than others.  But, one thing is certain and that is that if you keep doing what you are doing, you will keep getting the same results.

Therefore, one of the best things you can do today to contribute to happiness for yourself or someone you love is to ask yourself “what is one thing I could change for the better?”  Often, it will be something mentioned in this article like attitude or exercise.  But, sometimes, it is something very personal to you.  Check out this list of possibilities for simply enjoying the little things to get your imagination rolling.  Changing one thing can put everything on an upward path.

What About Depression?

Of course, if you or a loved one feel depressed a lot, it may be time to screen yourself for depression and tell your physician.  Depression, unchecked, can lead to serious complications including medical problems.

 

Extracted from: https://www.sageminder.com/Caregiving/CaregivingBasics/BoostingHappiness.aspx

How not to age – the 7 don’ts of active ageing

 August 17, 2020

The secret to life, as any hack will clue you, is: Always hang and chill with folk who are much older and largely fatter than you. This will render you the youngest and slimmest of the lot.

It’ll work all of two days. There’s so much fetch, help, carry, lift and pay (“Since you’re the youngest”) that one can take for the team.

If this is active ageing, count me out.

By all accounts, here in Singapore, the words “ageing” and “active” cannot stand alone, the two have to co-exist as one, Siamese-twinned as it were.

Graceful ageing – in my own instance, disgraceful ageing – relaxed ageing, dream-like ageing, wisely ageing, no way, we are Singapore, it’s gotta be active ageing.

Just thinking about the silver seniors’ line-dancing Mondays, zumba Wednesdays, taiji Fridays, Excel Windows Tuesdays and Thursdays piles the years on me.

Because I do none of the above.

I once read or saw (lying down or sitting up) that we must leave our bodies well alone and not seek to bend any limb in directions not originally intended to go.

I refuse to actively age.

Here’s my personal guide on how to age well, if not actively:

1. Woke and pissed about it
My millennial niece and nephew find me the coolest, hippest aunt “evah” (translation: ever). Because I can have “convo” (conversation) on any subject, almost.

I was very “woke” from a young age, growing up in a small estate of seven blocks housing multi-racial families. (“Woke” today means to be super alert to racism).

Today, I am even more “woke”, the most woke I’ve been. The curse of active bladders visited upon the ageing, twice a night in the wee-wee hours of the morning.

Do all your drinking before 10pm is my advice.

2. Tiktok mee/me
Listen, you knuckleheads, generations ago (more A B C than X Y Z), we also had TikTok. (TikTok is a global video community app for creating and sharing short performances launched in China in 2017.)

It was Chinese, it was social, it was shared and when it got real hot, we lip-sync-ed how burning the chilli was, at times with comedic results.

What we did not have was the facility for video. Our tik tok cost 30 cents a bowl.

Actively engage with all ages every chance you get. And hope they think you’re interesting: “Wow, you’re like older than my parents, and yet so interesting.”

3. The white continent
Never wear white after you’ve collected your CPF and retired.

Because there’s that feeling that eventually creeps up on you. When you can no longer hold it together. No more a master of your domaine (vineyard, dear). When you start to lose control.

Oh, my mind can still get the punchline of the story you just told. But my muscles have a mind of their own and I am actively wetting myself laughing.

(Shop for incontinent wear with an older person so it won’t be obvious it’s you who need them.)

4. Senior moments
Seniors make up the happiest demographics, we’re led to believe. More time, joy of grandkids, opportunity to pick up new skills, chase a dream, give back to society through volunteer work.

There is the flip side. More medical, more costs, loneliness, less mobility.

Eve of the Millennium, a group of us joked how we could combine our leftover strengths – one the eyes, another the legs, you the memory, you the hearing. The joke is now a reality show.

All we need is a seven-seater and a driver.

5. Love is a gas (second time around)
A dear friend, from Malaysia, widowed quite a few years now, what are the odds, re-connected with a schoolmate via Facebook. A widower himself, he settled in New Zealand.

They met here, there is no other way to say this – sparks flew and the ecstatic couple are traversing the globe, making up for lost time. With complete blessings from their grown-up children and grandchildren. Both financially independent.

But there was just the one thing hanging in the air. You know, with old age comes excessive gas, bloating, flatulence.

Neither could bring up the niggling subject. As luck would have it, it raised itself. Both got wind of it. The air has been cleared. To quote an aunt ahead of her time, “Love me , love my…(insert what you wish here).”

When you actively age, you can hide nothing. So don’t.

6. From boomer to zimmer
OK Boomer.

What’s it even mean, I mean, don’t you X-Y-Zers know we invented just about everything worth living for? We were the teenaged rock and rollers who gave the world DNA fingerprinting, Apple II, WWW, optimism?

Google it, it’s apparently all you know to do.

The Zimmer frame is a walker, a support tool to help those in need of balance and stability. Due to age-related restrictions. It first appeared in the US in the early 1950s.

You don’t have to give up your seat for me. Now outta my way, shrimp.

7. The privilege plus
Of reaching the nothing-to-prove stage. You know, all those I’ve eaten more salt than you have rice and don’t teach your grandmother to suck eggs parables. (Surely a recipe in there somewhere…)

The scary downside of these culinary grandfather stories is, some of us may have to, in time, consume all four courses in a gulp. Soup, appetiser, main, dessert, all blended into one course for easy swallowing.

Meanwhile, enjoy the myriad discounts to a plethora of dining available to active agers.

Alas, the most active of whom are the aged cleaners picking up after us.

 

Extracted from: https://www.dbs.com/livemore/life-hacks/how-not-to-age-the-7-donts-of-active-ageing.html?utm_source=outbrain&utm_medium=rssfeed&utm_campaign=lmbl_revamp&utm_content=How+not+to+age+-+the+7+don%27ts+of+active+ageing&dicbo=v1-8d99884031fd73302f7416d8ab89d79a-0025208c9c07d5b52479901f8687ab2aa0-gfsdezbzmy3tiljqheydaljugzrdallbmyygiljsguytoojqgi3dczjxha#.Xzk9J-16pfc.whatsapp

Why Wearing A Face Mask Is Important

 August 5, 2020

Why wear a face mask?

Wearing a face mask will help prevent the spread of infection and prevent the individual from contracting any airborne infectious germs. When someone coughs, talks, sneezes they could release germs into the air that may infect others nearby. Face masks are part of an infection control strategy to eliminate cross-contamination.

How should your face mask be worn?

  1. Always wash your hands with soap and water before touching the face mask.
  2. Remove mask from the dispenser or box and make sure the masks do not have any holes or tears.
  3. Make sure you determine which side is the top and which is the front of the mask, so you can properly wear the mask.
  4. Face masks with ear loops: hold by the ear loops and put the loops around each ear.
  5. Face masks with ties: bring mask to your nose and place the ties over your head to secure with a tie.
  6. Face masks with bands: hold mask to your nose and pull the top strap over the crown of your head and pull the bottom strap over your head so its at the nape of your neck.
  7. Pull the mask over your mouth and chin

 

Extracted from https://blog.universalmedicalinc.com/wearing-face-mask-important/

12 Tips for Taking Care of Elderly Loved Ones

 July 21, 2020

 

When it comes time to take care of your elderly loved ones, you want to be sure that they are handled with care, love, and patience. While it may be stressful at times, you must also keep in mind that it is not easy for them to become dependent on you or others for their care. It is important that you become familiar with ways to provide them with the best care possible.

1. Visit Often

It is important to visit them often. They need the social interaction with you and you get the reassurance that they are safe, healthy and in general, doing well. During your visit, it’s always best to check around the house for any issues that may need to be addressed such as the overall cleanliness of the house or if anything is broken that may need to be fixed. Also, do a routine check of their food supply, laundry, mail, and plants.

 

2. Check Their Medications

Be sure that they are appropriately supplied with their medications. It is important that all their prescriptions are filled and refilled as needed. If they are on a number of medications, it is best to buy a pill box organizer with compartments labeled with the days of the week as well as AM and PM doses. This can help simplify their medication taking process. Also, if a new medication is prescribed, be sure to ask the doctor or pharmacist about potential side effects or possible interactions with current medications.

3. Hire Help

There may be a need to hire a helper, aide or caretaker. This could be someone who helps your loved one with their daily activities such as showering, errands or housekeeping. If it isn’t someone you know personally, then you should always check references or go through a licensed agency. This may need to be a budgeted expense or it may be a resource that is available for a nominal fee or for free depending on if your loved one qualifies.

4. Make Modifications in Their Home

It is best to take a good look around their home and assess what may be a safety hazard. Some may be simple fixes while other modifications may be more involved. These include:

  • Installing a ramp for wheelchairs or walkers.
  • Installing handrails and grab bars at the toilet and shower.
  • Installing a raised toilet.
  • Testing (or installing) smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Checking the overall lighting in the house to make sure it is bright enough.
  • Plugging in a few auto-sensor nightlights throughout the home so they are able to see if they wake up at night.
  • Making sure there are non-skid mats or strips in the shower or bathtub or any other potential slippery areas of the house.
  • Removing extra clutter that is lying around or furniture that is in the way.
  • Removing small rugs.
  • Making sure cables, cords and wires are safely tucked away to prevent potential falls.

 

5. Talk Openly About Their Finances

Most times your elderly loved ones are not comfortable or willing to talk about their finances. But you must try to have open discussions about their finances, especially if they live on a fixed income or there is a budget to be adhered to.

6. Take Care of the Important Paperwork

Make sure everything is up-to-date and completed when it comes to their important paperwork such as their will or power of attorney. It is not an easy conversation but it is essential. Once the task is done, it will give you both peace of mind.

7. Watch for Driving Issues

There may come a time when your loved one may no longer be able to drive due to their declining cognitive abilities and reaction time while on the road. It is important to assess their driving abilities and when it does become an issue, offer other options that may help such as hiring a driver or using a delivery service for groceries.

8. Keep Them Active

It is important to keep your elderly loved one active and involved. Exercise is important to keep them healthy. Unfortunately, it is not unusual for the elderly to become isolated and lonely or even suffer from depression especially if they have lost their spouse. It is important that they remain involved with their family and friends or they may even want to venture out and make new friends. There are many resources in your community that offer things to do and places to go that will help your loved one stay social and active.

9. Supply Healthy Meals

Your loved one may not have the ability or desire to cook for themselves. It is important that they are well fed in order to stay healthy. You can prepare meals in advance for them. You can check into Meals on Wheels to see if they qualify. There are also many other deliverable meal plan options that your loved one may enjoy. Some of these meal plans can even accommodate special requests such as diabetic meals.

10. Keep an Eye on Them

If you are somewhat tech savvy, you can install a camera or type of motion sensor to keep watch over them or that will alert you if something is wrong. A Life Alert system is another option but you must convince them to wear the alert button at all times.

11. Arrange a Schedule

It is best to try to arrange a schedule between you and other family members to help your elderly loved one when it comes to bathing, doctor appointments, errands, shopping, cooking, cleaning, etc. If necessary, you may need to hire someone to help with some of those tasks and they will also need to be incorporated into the schedule. A schedule will not only help keep your life structured and organized, but it will help your loved one know what’s on their agenda as well.

12. Utilize Your Available Resources

There are many resources available for the elderly. These resources may be through the government or community-based. Do your research and see what your loved one qualifies for and how it could benefit them. You may be surprised at what’s available.

Take Care of Yourself

You must remain healthy in order to take care of anyone else. Those who take care of their elders have been found to suffer from stress, anxiety, depression and musculoskeletal disorders. If possible, divide the responsibilities between you, your spouse and other family members. It is important that you don’t forget to take breaks, get away a bit and enjoy your life as well.

 

Extracted from https://seniors.lovetoknow.com/Tips_for_Taking_Care_of_Elderly

Handy Guide to: Eldercare Grants and subsidies in Singapore

 July 4, 2020

According to the Ministry of Health, Singapore is facing a rapidly ageing population. The number of elderly in Singapore has increased to 13% in 2015 and is forecasted to reach 24% in 2030. In riding the silver tsunami, there is an increased importance placed on eldercare in Singapore. The government is hence actively pumping more funds and creating more Eldercare grants and subsidies such as Eldershield and Seniors mobility and enabling fund (SMF) to help make healthcare more accessible and affordable for the growing elderly population.

Elder care services doesn’t need to be a cause for financial burden for your family.  Education is definitely important to make healthcare affordable and accessible for everyone!

COVID 19: Caregiving for the Elderly

 June 26, 2020

When it comes to COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, older people are especially vulnerable to severe illness. Research is showing that adults 60 and older, especially those with preexisting medical conditions, especially heart disease, lung disease, diabetes or cancer are more likely to have severe — even deadly — coronavirus infection than other age groups.

If you’re caring for an older loved one, you might be worried. Alicia Arbaje, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D. specializes in internal medicine and geriatrics at Johns Hopkins. She shares what you need to know to keep elderly people safer, and what to do if they do become infected with COVID-19.

Keep yourself well

First and most important, as a caretaker you should take all the precautions you can to avoid becoming infected yourself. Here are the basics:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after providing care, preparing food, using the bathroom, or touching surfaces in public places.
  • Avoid crowds, and if you cough or sneeze, do so into the bend of your elbow or into a disposable tissue.
  • Keep your hands away from your face.
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces in your home often, including mobility and medical equipment used by your loved one, such as walkers, canes and handrails.

Practice physical distancing but not social isolation

One important way to lower the risk of your older family members catching COVID-19 is to limit in-person visits. But this may be tough for older adults who cherish time spent with friends and family members.

Arbaje says, “Physical distancing doesn’t have to mean isolation or loneliness. We need to keep older adults safe, but also keep in mind that social isolation can have a negative impact on older people’s  immunity and mental health.”

She notes that in terms of social contacts, seniors should be encouraged to think beyond their usual circle of friends and family. “Saying hello to the mail carrier or checking in on neighbors close by can add to a sense of connectedness,” Arbaje says.

With many houses of worship closing their doors until the pandemic eases, congregants, especially older ones, may feel cut off. “Faith communities are often a big part of older adults’ social lives,” Arbaje says. Caregivers might help their loved one access online services and outreach for spiritual solace and support.”

Technology for Staying Connected

To help older adults feel involved, purposeful and less lonely during the pandemic:

  • Show them how to video chat with others using smartphones, laptops or tablets.
  • Use apps on these devices to provide captions for adults with hearing challenges.
  • Encourage friends and family outside of your household to telephone, write notes or send cards to lift your loved one’s spirits.

Keep elders involved

Arbaje recommends giving homebound older adults a project they can work on. “Think about going through and organizing old photos and memorabilia together, and enjoy the stories and happy memories they inspire. It can be a good time for an elder to demonstrate cooking a favorite family recipe or share favorite songs or movies with other people in the household.”

Minimize the risk of COVID-19 infection

Postpone unnecessary doctor visits. If an older adult in your care is feeling well, consider helping them postpone elective procedures, annual checkups and other non-essential doctor visits.

Keep in mind that many older people, especially those living with chronic illness, have important relationships with their caregivers. To help them stay in touch, ask their doctors’ offices if they offer telemedicine, which enables doctors and patients to communicate over video, email or other means rather than face-to-face.

Avoid travel. Older adults should put off non-essential travel, particularly cruises or trips with itineraries that would expose them to crowds.

Decide on a plan

If you can, involve your older family member in discussions of how you’ll manage interruptions of routines and what will happen if they (or someone else in your family) becomes sick. Talking things through ahead of time as a family can reduce stress and help everyone feel more involved and prepared.

Pick an emergency contact. If you’re the main caregiver, designate someone nearby whom you could rely on to care for your elderly family member if you yourself become ill.

Stock up. Gather one to three months of medications, and at least two weeks’ worth of food, over-the-counter remedies, pet supplies, and other essentials. Find out which delivery services are available in your area.

Symptoms or exposure? Call ahead

If you or your loved one learn that you might have been exposed to someone diagnosed with COVID-19 or if anyone in your household develops symptoms such as cough, fever or shortness of breath, call your family doctor, nurse helpline or urgent care facility.

Extracted from: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/coronavirus/coronavirus-caregiving-for-the-elderly

 

Staying Safe in Phase 1

 June 12, 2020

 

As Singaporeans return to workplaces or social activities with the gradual re-opening after circuit breaker, the risk of transmission will increase. Everyone needs to play their part to keep Singapore COVID-safe.

How do I minimise the risk of transmission?

Here are some steps to remember:

For individuals and families

  • Maintain overall cleanliness and hygiene
  • Wear a mask outside
  • Avoid sharing food and crockery. Clear used trays and crockery after meals if dining out
  • Stay home if you fall ill
  • Practise safe-distancing, avoid crowded areas and minimise time spent outside
  • Pay special attention to seniors and other vulnerable groups
  • Facilitate contact tracing efforts by downloading TraceTogether, and using SafeEntry wherever it is used

At work

  • Employers to implement a safe-management system:
    • Work-from-home arrangements, staggered working hours, split team arrangements
    • Regular disinfection of common touch points
  • Avoid physical meetings
  • Employers to monitor employee’s health and have evacuation plans in the event of a confirmed case
  • Avoid gathering in groups during meals and break times
  • Avoid planning events that could draw large numbers of employees

At school

  • Students to remain in their respective classes and avoid mingling with students from other classes, including during recess and break times
  • Students should head home after school and school-related activities

For seniors

 

Extracted from gov.sg

Five surprising things to keep in mind about your muscles in your 40’s, 50’s , 60’s and beyond!

 May 28, 2020

Having muscle is more than just strength and how you look on the outside. Muscles play a role in your body’s movement, balance and posture, as well as your metabolism and even facial structure. While maintaining your muscles can be more challenging as you get older, science has shown that we can all be strong no matter what age.

Here are five surprising things to keep in mind about your muscles in your 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and beyond.

 

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Why some Covid-19 patients continue to test positive despite a strong recovery and no symptoms

 May 12, 2020

SINGAPORE — Some Covid-19 patients continue to test positive for the infection even though they are recovering and are clinically well and this may be because tests are picking up fragments of the coronavirus that are no longer viable, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said on Monday (May 4).

He said this in Parliament in response to a question by Member of Parliament for Fengshan Single Member Constituency Cheryl Chan who raised the issue of Covid-19 patients who are recovering well but continue to test positive for the coronavirus despite being housed in community care facilities.

In some cases, patients are in these facilities for over a month.

Mr Gan explained that in some cases the fragments may return a positive result on the test but these patients are no longer infectious.

The Government, he said, is in talks with infectious disease experts on what more can be done for such patients.

TODAY spoke to infectious diseases experts to understand the peculiarity of these test results.

WHAT ARE THESE FRAGMENTS?

The coronavirus requires many components to be fully infectious, said Associate Professor Richard Sugrue, who is a virologist from Nanyang Technological University’s School of Biological Sciences.

First, the particle is surrounded by a membrane and on this, there is a spike protein, which forms the knob-like structures that appear on many visual representations of the virus.

These structures are used by the virus to gain entry into cells.

The virus genome is buried inside the particle and is associated with a protein that stabilises and protects it from other cell enzymes that could degrade it.

When the virus particle is disrupted into its separate parts by the patient’s immune system, the virus becomes non-infectious.

Currently many diagnostic tests seem to be detecting these residual fragments, said Assoc Prof Sugrue.

Elaborating, Associate Professor Hsu Li Yang, co-director of National University Singapore’s Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health’s global health department, said the coronavirus PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests, which is what Singapore is using, do not distinguish between “live” virus fragments or fragments of virus genetic material — the “dead” virus.

“The PCR tests identify small segments of genetic codes unique to the virus and amplify them. These amplified portions of the genetic code can then be detected by various means depending on the testing systems used.”

WHY DO PATIENTS WHO FEEL WELL SHED THE VIRUS?

There are many reasons why some patients continue to shed the virus — both “live or “dead” — after they have recovered, said Assoc Prof Hsu.

But a key reason is that recovering from an infection does not always go in tandem with how and when viruses multiply and spread.

This means an individual’s virus load is not necessarily representative of the severity of their symptoms or how poorly they are feeling.

For instance, there is evidence that other viruses, such as those that cause influenza or chickenpox, can shed and spread to others before the patient develops symptoms.

The virus for these infections can also be detected in a patient days after he or she has recovered.

“But the virus is ‘dead’ most of the time or shed in very low quantity and will usually not infect anyone,” said Assoc Prof Hsu.

Dr Leong Hoe Nam, an infectious diseases specialist from Mount Elizabeth Hospital, noted that the same has been uncovered for the coronavirus.

Studies have now shown that the virus that causes the Covid-19 disease can be found in a patient one to two days before the onset of fever, said Dr Leong. He added that coronaviruses are known to shed for up to six weeks.

So far, the longest known period that these fragments can stay in the body is over 70 days from the start of the infection, said Assoc Prof Hsu.

WHY DO SOME PEOPLE TAKE LONGER THAN OTHERS TO RID THEMSELVES OF THE VIRUS?

Not much is known as to how and why this differs from person to person.

Said Assoc Prof Hsu: “We do not yet understand the mechanism, but people who have been more ill, or who have had their immune systems suppressed, tend to shed virus for a longer period of time.”

Professor Wang Linfa of Duke-NUS Medical School said there is still no conclusive evidence to show the exact mechanism of why this is happening in some patients.

“More research is needed on the topic before (infectious diseases experts) can make any conclusive remarks.”

IS IT SAFE TO HAVE CLINICALLY WELL BUT POSITIVE PATIENTS DISCHARGED?

While the risk of this group passing the infection on to others is slim, Dr Leong said it would still be “a big leap of faith” to let them back into the community while they still test positive for Covid-19.

“All we need is to make one mistake and we could undo our (progress fighting the virus),” he said.

However, one scenario where he sees the authorities considering discharging these patients back to the community is if the healthcare system no longer has the capacity to take in new patients.

These individuals would likely still have to be kept away from the greater community and be put under more stringent rules than those under current stay-home notices and instead follow quarantine order rules even while at home.

“The person would have to stay in his own room, have food placed outside his room and someone would have to help launder his clothes, for example, without him having to come out,” said Dr Leong.

But he added that at the moment, the Government has “no stress” to make such a move as it is still planning to open more community care facilities for Covid-19 patients.

Extracted from Today Online

89m shoddy face masks swiped in China crackdown

 April 30, 2020

China has confiscated over 89 million poor-quality face masks, a government official said yesterday, as Beijing faces a slew of complaiabout faulty protective gear exported worldwide.

Demand for protective equipment has soared as nations across the globe battle the deadly coronavirus, which has infected around 2.9 million people.

But a number of countries have complained about faulty masks and other products exported by China, mostly for use by medical workers and vulnerable groups.

As of Friday, China’s market regulators had inspected nearly 16 million businesses and seized over 89 million masks and 418,000 pieces of protective gear, said Gan Lin, deputy director of the State Administration of Market Regulation.

Regulators had also seized ineffective disinfectants worth over 7.6 million yuan (HK$8.31 million), she said.

It is unclear how much of the confiscated goods were destined for markets abroad.

China released new rules Saturday saying even non-medical masks must meet both national and international quality standards. Exporters must also file a written declaration that their medical products meet the safety requirements of the destination country, the ministry of commerce said.

The tighter rules come after several countries including Spain, the Netherlands and Turkey were forced to recall hundreds of thousands of masks and pieces of protective gear imported from China. The Canadian government last week said that about one million face masks purchased from China failed to meet proper standards for healthcare professionals.

Extracted from The Standard HK

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