Saturday, 11 April 2020

Coronavirus outbreak

Coronavirus outbreak: Preventive measures to tackle it

By Dr Mukesh Sanklecha

The world seems to be battling with the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) that broke out in China in December 2019 and has claimed several lives. Recently, India reported fresh coronavirus cases, taking the total number of confirmed infections to more than a hundred.

Coronaviruses (CoVs) are a large family of viruses that cause a range of illnesses from the common cold to the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).

Importance of regular hand washing
Key measures that need to be taken to prevent the spread of the disease include regular hand washing, covering the mouth and nose while coughing or sneezing and cooking meats and eggs thoroughly.

I have been emphasising that the four important symptoms that one should be concerned about are fever, cough, breathlessness and loose motions. Interestingly, cold and a running nose are much lower down in the list of symptoms indicating the likelihood of getting the disease.

There are four key steps that need to be taken by all of us to reduce the risk of contracting Coronavirus. They include:
  • ·         Frequent washing of hands
  • ·         Using hand sanitisers
  • ·         Adopting the right way to wash hands
  • ·         Using hand sanitizers correctly

You must wash your hands before and after cooking and eating, after touching raw food and, of course, when your hands are dirty. You must also wash your hands after coughing or sneezing, meeting people who are ill, after using toilets, and after touching animals.

Fortunately, good hand-washes are available in the market. Godrej Protekt, for instance, is mild on the hands and has glycerine and essential oils. They also have Mr. Magic hand-wash, the first-ever powder to liquid format hand-wash, which has the power of neem and aloe vera, which protects your hands from germs and leaves your skin feeling soft. This is a first in the world of hand-washes and an extremely affordable hand-washing solution. It is as affordable as bar soaps whilst being more hygienic. Hand sanitisers are also key to prevent the onset of such diseases.

Be aware about the threats
Everyone must be aware about the right way to prevent the spread of such diseases. Use lukewarm water and hand-wash over soap whenever possible. Hand-wash can reduce transmission rates of viral infection of any disease to a dramatic extent.

It is important to lather for 20 seconds. As I say quite often, it is the time taken to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice. Clean the area between the fingers and under your nails and then then wipe your hands with a tissue. You must use the tissue even to close the tap and then dispose it of properly.

There are three key points to note on the right way to use a hand sanitiser: pour, rub and wait till it dries completely.

In the case of kids, they cannot wash their hands properly all the time, so the use of a sanitiser makes a lot of sense for them. Sanitising hands before having a meal is very important, both for children and even adults. Other preventive measures that need to be taken include avoiding raw or uncooked food and avoiding meat markets.

(Dr Mukesh Sanklecha is a renowned Child Specialist with a special interest in infectious diseases. The consultant pediatrician at the Bombay Hospital Institute of Medical Sciences has been in private practice for the past 25 years).

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