Friday, March 06, 2020

Thoughts on tea and avoiding the virus

In this post, I will try to give my readers some advice on the virus now spreading around the world. I will try to base this advice on my previous experience of SARS and how Taiwan is currently handling this disease. As for the link with tea, I am not going to claim that any tea you drink can protect you from the virus. However, drinking tea may be part of the solution to avoid catching the virus. Let's see how!
Taiwan was among the first countries outside of China to be hit with the Covid-19 virus. The reason is that there are many Taiwanese who work in China who came back home for Chinese New Year. However, being an island with very few entry points helped Taiwan to track those at risk and it quickly banned tourists from China and required Taiwanese coming from China to remain in quarantine. The number of people infected still continues to increase, but very slowly. Right now there are fewer than 50 cases in Taiwan. There are other reasons for this success at keeping the virus from spreading:
- Most people in public transportation wear a mask. While experts say that a mask doesn't really protect you, it does protect others in case you are infected (and you don't know it). Even after living 23 years in Taiwan, wearing a mask still feels strange for me, but it's an accepted habit here, which makes it easier to wear.
 - Washing your hands regularly, especially each time you come home, is another good way to prevent the virus from spreading. For a tea drinker, washing one's hands should be simple and self-evident habit. Even if you use a scoop instead of the hand to put the leaves in the teapot, having clean hands without bad smells is essential to drink from small tea cups.

- Taiwan also prolonged the winter vacation for pupils and students by 2 weeks. This meant they were in quarantine until it was certain they were not sick and wouldn't spread the virus among each other in school. Not everyone can take a 2 weeks vacation! However, one can try to limit the people he contacts in these time of risk. There are fewer people in restaurants, cinemas and in department stores right now in Taipei. More people are purchasing online and are staying home. A Chaxi is a wonderful way to travel with all your senses while you spend more quality time at home!
In conclusion, my experience in Taiwan recommends to take this seriously, but not to panic. Slowing down the spread is already a big help for the health professionals: it allows them to better take care of those who are sick and gain knowledge about how best to treat the symptoms. Remember, the best way to fight a fire is when it's small (and far away). And teaching others to protect themselves is also a good way to protect oneself! Don't spread the virus, but spread these few recommendations!

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