“wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing”
“The Indian government got active very quickly in response to the virus taking important steps such as flight ban, quarantines of travellers, and closure of schools. We are still in early stages of disease spread in India and it’s way too soon to celebrate. We need to continue to be cautious else in a country as big as India, the spread of virus can be catastrophic,” said Dr. S. S. Agarwal, former President, Indian Medical Association, VP, Strategy & Operations, Rajasthan Hospital, Sr. Consultant, Swasthya Kalyan Group, in an interview to Ravi Mishra. Excerpts:
Coronavirus is now a global issue and Indians have also been infected of this. How should it be ascertained as to who should get tested for novel coronavirus?
We are in a situation where anyone and everyone who is getting any kind of flu like symptoms is trying to get tested for the Covid-19 virus. Although it is a perfectly natural human tendency, such actions may lead to undue allocation of resources at our disposal. For a small country like South Korea, mass screening has been very successful but for a country of our size with 130 crore people, undertaking such an ordeal will neither be fruitful nor practical. With the limited knowledge that we have about the virus, doctors have devised a strategy to tell you whether you require Covid-19 testing. This includes both physical symptoms such as type of cough or fever pattern as well as patient history of travel and exposure to high risk individuals. At this point this is the more practical approach to divert our resources to places where the people are more vulnerable. In short, the advise is to let the health experts decide whether you require a test or not.
How long does it take for symptoms to appear?
As per the data assembled so far, symptoms have started appearing as early as 2 days upto 14 days. The average is about 6 days.
Is it necessary to wear masks?
In short – NO. Masks definitely act as a protective mechanism but if you are unexposed and are in the relative comfort of your home or safe environment, mask is not required.
If you are healthy, you only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person with suspected with the infection.
You should also wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing. That will prevent the spread of coronavirus pathogen or any other pathogen that you might have.
It is to be noted that masks are effective only when used in combination with frequent hand-cleaning with either soap water or alcohol-based hand rub.
If you wear a mask, then you must know how to use it and dispose of it properly.
What is the correct way for wearing a mask?
Step 1: Clean your hands with either soap water or alcohol-based hand rub
Step 2: Cover mouth and nose with mask and make sure there are no gaps between your face and the mask
Step 3: Avoid touching the mask while its on your face. If you do touch it, clean your hands with either soap water or alcohol-based hand rub
Caution: Change the mask with a new one as soon as it is damp. Also do not re-use single-use masks.
To remove the mask: remove it from behind (do not touch the front of mask); discard immediately in a closed bin; clean hands with either soap water or alcohol-based hand rub
Is there any probability that a person cured of novel coronavirus can get it again?
It is still uncertain since right now we do not have any credible data to authenticate this query.
How is social distancing good in country like India where 135 crore population reside?
It doesn’t matter if a country has 1 crore population or 135 crore population. Every drop of the sea counts. In a country like ours which is so densely populated, if people start doing social distancing, the impact will also be very big on the pure number of people that we may end up saving or preventing getting the infection.
How long does the virus survive on surfaces?
The virus can last upto 24 hours on surfaces depending on the kind of surface and the temperature in the area.
Will summer or humidity be effective in eliminating this virus?
Environmental changes do affect the virus and usually we see that in summers cases of flu decline. That being said, most of the places now are temperature controlled so summer will not play such a drastic role that as soon as summer comes, the virus would be eliminated. We should rather continue to focus on more important things like cleaning hands and social distancing.
Is there any connection between non -vegetarian food and Coronavirus?
Viruses, just like many other pathogens, do get transmitted through uncooked meats. One of the possible origination of this strain of coronavirus is claimed to be through uncooked meats. As long as you cook your meats properly, this should not be a problem. Also you need to be extra careful while dealing with your raw meat and ensure proper hygiene levels.
Compare to other nations, India is not so infected of this virous. What is the reason?
The Indian government got active very quickly in response to the virus taking important steps such as flight ban, quarantines of travellers, and closure of schools. We are still in early stages of disease spread in India and it’s way too soon to celebrate. We need to continue to be cautious else in a country as big as India, the spread of virus can be catastrophic.