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COVID-19 alert – Keep safe distance

By Hubert

Visiting COVID-19 management expert shares some cautions and concerns

The buzzword in Oman currently is ‘Keep safe distance’ as people have been advised to cut out all social interaction, be it making courtesy calls or visiting places of mass contact, and to stay at an arm’s length from each other during all conversations.

According to Dr Chandni Radhakrishnan, State Medical Board member, COVID-19 Management, Kerala (India), the rapid human-to-human spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) was what set it apart from other coronaviruses that struck in the recent past (SARS, MERS etc) and so, utmost care and caution is needed in all affected countries, including Oman. This mainly involves avoiding areas of mass contact as well

as maintaining a safe distancefrom everyone.

Dr Chandni, who was on a brief visit to Muscat last week, had been Nodal officer, Nipah Outbreak Management, in Keralain 2018, and is well-versed in all precautions and guidelines connected with the management of virus outbreaks. She is currently Professor of Medicine and HoD of Emergency Medicine at the Government Medical College, Kozhikode, affiliated to Kerala University of Health Sciences.

“One unique feature of COVID-19 is that a patient can pass on the infection to another person during the incubation period even though he himself doesn’t exhibit any symptoms. There have been many cases wherein patients who acquired the infection by contact with infected persons have themselves not got ill, but passed it on to those they have come in contact with,” Dr Chandni told The Week, stressing on the importance of avoiding visiting closed places that are frequented by many people as well as maintaining adequate distance (at least one metre) between people during social interactions.

Calling on people to maintain proper personal hygiene by way of washing hands regularly with soap and water or by using sanitisers after coming in contact with surfaces in public places, she pointed out that the virus is known to thrive on surfaces for about eight to nine hours via droplets from a person who sneezes or if touched by his/her hands that are contamina-ted by nasal secretions.

“The infection spreads from human to human primarily by direct contact with infected persons. However, one can be safe by maintaining a safe distance of at least one metre as well as regula-rly washing hands and not touching one’s eyes/nose/mouth without doing so,” Dr Chandni summed up as the key precaution.

As regards prevention of the illness, Dr Chandni asserted, in 80 per cent of the cases, as in the

case of a common respiratory illness, if one takes rest at home, consumes hot foods, does gargling and takes paracetamol, the person can be cured.

However, special care needs to be taken in high-risk individuals – pregnant ladies, senior citizens with other ailments like heart disease, diabetes or those who have had a renal transplant, those receiving chemotherapy or in other immunosuppressed states – from getting infected. “I might have mild illness, but I may be the reason for transmitting it to a high-risk individual, who might die due to it.”



If one is sick with an allergic cough or any other respiratory

illness, it is better to delay travel by a few days than to travel while unwell, to avoid getting quarantined.

Hand hygiene is very important, even if one is in a hurry. Children should also be educated to make it a habit. Adults, too, should follow the prescribed method of washing hands with soap and water, if not using sanitisers.

Those who have pets need to maintain good hygiene around the house, as most new infections have come to humans through animals.

Avoid panic buying of essential commodities during a pandemic to avoid creating a scare in the community.

Most importantly, we must remember that we need to isolate the virus, not the individual. Discrimination against a community or race must be avoided.

Do not believe or spread any messages by social media or WhatsApp. Follow only the guidelines given by WHO or the country’s health authorities.

Medical professionals need to strictly follow infection control guidelines and practices.

Those quarantined at home must have access only to one family member to look after basic needs, like food, and have plenty of ventilation. All other members must avoid total contact for at least 14 days. Cooperating with quarantine guidelines should be voluntary.

Remaining in quarantine is stressful but we need to cooperate for the time being to tide over this crisis

The N-95 masks are to be used only by healthcare workers caring for these patients. If you have a respiratory infection you must use three layered surgical mask to protect others from getting the infection from you. This can also be used by those who are caring for people in quarantine to prevent infection.

Routine use of masks by the public will do more harm than good because of false security and incorrect disposal of used masks.