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Indians need not to panic about coronavirus, says WHO

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that Indians don't need to panic about the outbreak of Covid-19 coronavirus. Speaking to India Today Dr Rodrico Ofrin, Regional Emergencies Director, WHO...

New Delhi: The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that Indians don't need to panic about the outbreak of Covid-19 coronavirus. Speaking to India Today Dr Rodrico Ofrin, Regional Emergencies Director, WHO, said there is no need to panic, as cases tested positive in India were because of travelling abroad, citizens' caught the virus on foreign land.

Speaking about whether the virus will subside as temperatures rise, he said, "We don't know that yet, research still going on the same. It is a relatively new virus so gathering information on it will take time. Research on it is taking place 24x7, even as we speak there many experts across the globe are trying to figure out its evolution."

Dr Ofrin said, "There is no need to panic, the need of the hour is to get more trained doctors and nurses to treat the infected. We know India has come up with many centres, that's the way to go about it. Hospitals have isolation wards, those need to be activated as soon as possible."

Speaking about what the citizens can do, he added, "As an Indian citizen you need to maintain basic hygiene like washing one's hands often, covering ones mouth while sneezing, if you feel sick rush to a doctor as soon as possible."

However, Dr Rodrico Ofrin cautioned the old and the very young, that's the age group which is most susceptible to the virus. He added that extreme caution should be taken by these two age groups.

Recommendations and advices for the public

If you are not in an area where COVID-19 is spreading, or have not travelled from an area where COVID-19 is spreading, or have not been in contact with an infected patient, your risk of infection is low. It is understandable that you may feel anxious about the outbreak. Get the facts from reliable sources to help you accurately determine your risks so that you can take reasonable precautions.

Seek guidance from your healthcare provider, your national public health authority for accurate information on COVID-19 and whether COVID-19 is circulating where you live. It is important to be informed of the situation and take appropriate measures to protect yourself and your family. If you are in an area where there are cases of COVID-19 you need to take the risk of infection seriously. Follow the advice and guidance issued by WHO or national and local health authorities. For most people, COVID-19 infection will cause mild illness however, it can make some people very ill and, in some people, it can be fatal. Older people, and those with pre-existing medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease or diabetes are at risk.

What can I do to prevent becoming infected?

When people are sick with a respiratory disease like COVID-19, they cough or sneeze particles into the air. If someone is coughing near you, the virus could easily land on your eyes, nose or mouth. These particles travel only about six feet and fall out of the air rather quickly. However, they do land on surfaces that you touch all the time, such as railings, doorknobs, elevator buttons or subway poles. The average person also touches their face 23 times per hour, and about half of these touches are to the mouth, eyes, and nose, which are the mucosal surfaces that the COVID-19 virus infects.

Proper hand-washing is the best thing you can do to protect yourself from a number of diseases including COVID-19. While hand-washing is preferred, hand sanitizers with at least a 60% alcohol concentration can be an effective alternative to always using soap and water, but only if your hands are not visibly soiled.

Public health experts don’t fully understand the role these surfaces play in the transmission of disease, and you could still be infected by a virus that landed directly on you. We also don’t know how long the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 can survive on hard surfaces, although other coronaviruses can survive for up to nine days on hard surfaces like stair railings.

Frequent cleaning could remove the virus if a surface has been contaminated by a sick person, such as when someone in your household is sick. In these situations, it is important to use a disinfectant that is thought to be effective against the COVID-19 virus. Although specific products have not yet been tested against COVID-19 coronavirus, there are many products that are effective against the general family of coronaviruses. Cleaning recommendations using “natural” products like vinegar are popular on social media, but there is no evidence that they are effective against coronavirus.

What about wearing masks?

While people have turned to masks as protection against COVID-19, masks often provide nothing more than a false sense of security to the wearer. The masks that were widely available at pharmacies, big-box stores and home improvement stores – until a worried public bought them all – work well at filtering out large particles like dust. The problem is that the particles that carry the COVID-19 virus are small and easily move right through dust masks and surgical masks. These masks may provide some protection to other people if you wear one while you are sick – like coughing into a tissue – but they will do little to protect you from other sick people.

N95 masks, which filter out 95% of the small, virus-containing particles, are worn in health care settings to protect doctors and nurses from exposure to respiratory diseases. These masks provide protection only if they are worn properly. They require special testing to ensure that they provide a seal around your face and that air doesn’t leak in the sides, defeating the purpose of the mask. People wearing the mask also must take special steps when removing the mask to ensure that they are not contaminating themselves with the viral particles that the mask filtered out. If you don’t wear the mask properly, don’t remove it properly or put it in your pocket and reuse it later, even the best mask won’t do you any good.

A Wuhan-type quarantine is extremely unlikely, as a quarantine won’t stop the spread of a disease that has been found all over the world. The types of disruptions that you should plan for are small disruptions in your day-to-day life. You should have a plan in case you or a family member gets sick and you can’t leave the house for a few days. This includes stocking up on basic things you need to take care of yourself, like food and medicines.

If you do get sick, the last thing you are going to want to do is run to the grocery store, where you would expose other people to your illness. You shouldn’t wait until you are out of an important medication before requesting a refill just in case your pharmacy closes for a couple of days because all their employees are sick. You also should plan for how to handle issues like temporary school or day care closures. You don’t need to prepare anything extreme; a little common-sense preparation will go a long way to make your life easier if you or your loved ones become sick.

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