By Boma Benjy – Iwuoha
As the world battles through the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic sweeping across continents, physicians and healthcare professionals continue to share information to help the public stay safe and prevent further spread of the deadly COVID-19.
What is a pandemic? Merriam Webster’s English dictionary describes it as a disease, prevalent over a whole country or the world, or occurring over a wide geographic area and affecting an exceptionally high proportion of the population. This is the situation of the COVID-19 today.
Based on what is currently known about the virus from the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), spread from person-to-person happens most frequently among close contacts (within about 6 feet). This type of transmission occurs via respiratory droplets. Transmission of novel coronavirus to persons from surfaces contaminated with the virus has not been documented. Transmission of coronavirus, in general, occurs much more commonly through respiratory droplets than through fomites.
Health professionals continue to share Information and sensitize the public on healthy ways to stay safe and prevent infection. Most of this information is being spread through social media, community outreach, hashtags, and the like. Companies have also made it their responsibility to share updates on COVID 19, while sanitizers, disinfectants and social distancing have become a prevalent part of household and media conversations.
As the infection spreads across the globe, and scientists work around the clock for a permanent cure, it has become very important to keep the public updated about the dangers of the virus and the importance of practising the health tips provided by professionals to prevent the virus, Some of which include:
Social Distancing: This refers to a set of non-pharmaceutical infection control actions intended to stop or slow down the spread of a contagious disease. The objective of social distancing is to reduce the probability of contact between persons carrying an infection, and others who are not infected, so as to minimize disease transmission, morbidity and ultimately, mortality. This disease control method is most effective when an infection can be transmitted via droplet contact (coughing or sneezing); direct physical contact, including sexual contact; indirect physical contact (e.g. by touching a contaminated surface); or airborne transmission (if the microorganism can survive in the air for long periods). Which makes Social Distancing a suitable preventive measure for COVID 19.
Social distancing is not a new form of infection control. Historically, leper colonies were established as a means of preventing the spread of leprosy and other contagious diseases through social distancing, until transmission was understood and effective treatments invented.
Keep Your Hands Clean: The WHO advises that the most effective way to protect yourself against the new coronavirus is by frequently cleaning your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or washing them with soap and water. By doing this you eliminate viruses that may be on your hands and avoid infection that could occur by then touching your eyes, mouth, and nose.
Environmental Cleaning and Disinfection Recommendations: Current evidence suggests that the coronavirus may remain viable for hours to days on surfaces made from a variety of materials. Cleaning of visibly dirty surfaces followed by disinfection is a best practice measure for the prevention of COVID-19 and other viral respiratory illnesses in community settings. It is aimed at limiting the survival of the coronavirus in key environments.
Finally, what happens beyond COVID-19? I have received several calls and messages from friends, colleagues, and family sharing information about how to stay safe during this pandemic. The messages range from wash your hands, wear a face mask, drink a lot of water, sanitize your hands, and drink a lot of vinegar (please do not do this). I have to ask, will these healthy habits become a part of our lives or do we drop them off and move on when the virus is defeated?
I think not, keeping a clean environment, washing our hands and maintaining a decent social distance in public places should be a part of our lives beyond the pandemic. These habits generally reduce the risk of opportunistic infections which keeps us healthy.
Therefore, while we practice these habits to overcome the coronavirus, let’s remain conscious of our health and make it a lifestyle to stay clean and conscious beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.