The recent outbreak of Coronavirus has left everyone anxious about their safety. With the amount of misinformation out there, it has been difficult to figure out which one to heed to and which one to avoid.
Our aim in writing this blog is to help you be aware of the right facts about Coronavirus and take the necessary steps to prevent infection.
An Introduction to Coronavirus:
Coronaviruses are a type of virus that is known to affect the respiratory tract of animals as well as humans. They are part of the Coronavirinae subfamily which falls under the Coronaviridae family. Some of the most common types of Coronavirus include:
- 229E (alpha coronavirus)
- NL63 (alpha coronavirus)
- OC43 (beta coronavirus)
- HKU1 (beta coronavirus)
Some of the rare strains include MERS-CoV causing the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), SARS-CoV causing the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). The most recent strain is that of the SARS-CoV-2 causing the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
Modes of transmission:
The primary mode of COVID-19 transmission is through respiratory droplets generated when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. Droplets that settle on the eyes, nose, or mouth of a person in close proximity leads to the transmission of infection. Transmission can also occur by touching the face with contaminated hands. Respiratory droplets do not remain suspended in the air for long; hence, a distance of six feet away from an infected person may be considered safe. Coronaviruses may contaminate metal, glass, or plastic surfaces that may remain infective for several days. Contact with such contaminated surfaces (fomites) and subsequent transfer to the face by touch may also be an important mode of transmission.
Airborne transmission, distinct from droplet infection, is characterized by viruses that drift through the air. It is unclear if airborne transmission occurs with COVID-19 infection. The possibility of airborne transmission requires the use of additional protective measures, including N95 masks.
Overall the most common ways in which Coronavirus can spread are:
- Coughing and sneezing without covering your mouth as this can spread the droplets containing the virus in the air
- Coming into contact with a person who’s already carrying the virus
- Coming into contact with any object which contains the virus and then touching your nose or mouth
How to Prevent Coronavirus infection transmission?
In case you are diagnosed with Coronavirus, your healthcare provider will decide whether you need to be hospitalised or can remain at home. In case you’re asked to stay at home, you’ll be monitored by the state healthcare department.
You should adhere to the following steps before you can return to your normal activities:
- Don’t leave home unless to get medical care – Restrict your activities just to your home and avoid visiting work, school, or any other public areas. You should also try to avoid public transport as much as possible.
- Keep yourself away from other members of the family, including any pets – It’s better to keep yourself restricted to a separate room and also use a separate bathroom, if possible. Moreover, it’s important for infected people to stay away from animals in general. Until more information is collected on COVID-19, avoid snuggling, kissing, or sharing food with animals.
- Call before visiting your doctor – If you have a medical appointment, it’s best to let the doctor know from beforehand so that they can take proper steps to keep other people from being infected.
- Wear a mask – Whenever you’re outside in a public place, you should always wear a facemask.
- Cover your mouth while coughing and sneezing – You should also cover your mouth with a tissue while coughing or sneezing. It’s also a good idea to throw the tissues after you’ve used them.
- Clean your hands thoroughly – Immediately after you cough or sneeze, and also at other times, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap water or use an alcohol-based sanitiser. The sanitiser should contain at least 60-95% of alcohol.
- Avoid sharing personal items – It’s important that you keep away the personal items you use on a daily basis such as drinking glasses, dishes, and towels away from your family and pets.
- Clean surfaces and objects prone to high touch – Some of the common surfaces or objects such as doorknobs and tabletops that may be accessed by everyone should be cleaned to avoid the transfer of the virus. It’s also important to clean any objects that are contaminated with body fluids or blood.
- Monitor symptoms – In case you feel that the symptoms are getting worse, you should call your healthcare provider and get checked.
You should remain in home isolation until your healthcare provider feels that the risks of secondary transmission are low.
Now looking at it from the other end, below are the steps for healthy people in the family to follow to avoid getting infected with the Coronavirus:
- It’s important to ensure that the infected person follows all the precautions laid down by the healthcare provider
Try to monitor the symptoms of the infected person. If the symptoms get worse, then you should inform the healthcare provider
- You should also stay in a separate room and use a separate bathroom away from the infected person. It’s important to ensure that any pets should stay away as well
- It’s best to avoid any visitors at this point
- It’s important to ensure that the shared spaces in the home should have good ventilation and air circulation. You can turn on the air conditioning or keep the windows open.
- It’s important to maintain proper hygiene to avoid transmission of the virus. Make sure you wash your hands for about 20 seconds with soap and water. In the absence of soap and water, you can use an alcohol-based sanitiser, where the alcohol content is at least 60-95%.
- Avoid touching your nose, mouth, or eyes too much unless your hands are washed.
- If you’re in the same room as the infected person, then you should keep a mask with you.
- You should always wear a facemask before coming in contact with the infected person’s stool, blood, or body fluids.
- You shouldn’t reuse facemasks or gloves and dispose of them right away. When you’re removing the protective covers, start with the glove first and immediately wash your hands.
- Wash all the laundry thoroughly. Discard all the clothes that are contaminated with blood, stool, or body fluids. You should always wear gloves while you’re dealing with the soiled items. Clean your hands immediately after handling the soiled items.
- In case of any further doubts, issues, or problems, call up the concerned healthcare provider and follow their directives.
Dr. Harish MM, Consultant Anaesthesia & Critical Care, Mazumdar Shaw Medical Center, Bommasandra, Bangalore