After the prick, the relief―a Kodai resident outside the town’s Urban Primary Health Centre this May (Photo credit: Azad Reese)
ஊசி போட்டுக்கொண்ட நிம்மதி: போன மே மாதம், கொரொனா தடுப்பு ஊசி போட்டுக்கொண்ட கோடை வாசி ஒருவர், நகர தொடக்க சுகாதார மையத்தை விட்டு வெளிவரும் காட்சி.(படம், நண்பர் அஸாத் ரீஸ் கொடுத்துதவியது)

How to Avoid Getting Covid-19

Keep up the ventilation: Make sure all necessary interactions take place outdoors or in very well-ventilated rooms;the larger the room the better. We have the luxury of being outdoors for many of our day-to-day activities―let’s make the most of it.

Maintain distance: Maintain a minimum distance of two metres from people, particularly if they prefer to drop their masks to half-mast or below the chin, or dispense with them altogether. It is now postulated (with sound backing) that SARS CoV2 is transmitted through the minute aerosol particles which can pervade a whole room (approximately 10 metres square), as well as through larger droplets which spread to two metres. ‘What’s the difference between aerosols and airborne particles?’ you may ask. Think of it as the difference between air freshener and smoke. Smoke (airborne) enters the air and rises. It disperses more with air currents and movement, and the effect carries for quite a distance. We have all experienced this with the regular forest fires―the fire may be a hillside away but we can still smell the smoke. An air freshener (aerosol particles) on the other hand enters the air space and hangs around to affect the whole room, but gently falls with time due to the weight of the particles. If the room is closed the aroma remains for longer, but if a window is open it quickly dissipates.

Masking up (Photo courtesy Pixabay)
மாஸ்க் அணிதல்: சரியாக மாஸ்க் அணியும் முறை (படம் பிக்ஸாபே கொடுத்துதவியது)

Mask up: We tend to forget that our own mask is for the protection of those around us, evidence of our consideration and concern for others. A properly worn mask―covering the nose, mouth, and chin―reduces the minute droplets and aerosols from the masked person entering the air space around and affecting others, thus reducing the chance of spreading the virus. (For a detailed guide on how to wear a mask, click here). It is also worth noting that a mask does not reduce oxygenation in the wearer in any way.

Avoid panic. Panic stimulates the body’s sympathetic nervous system, causing it to go into overdrive and resulting in certain symptoms and signs that could mimic those of Covid. Your panic may also cause your doctor to overreact, a natural human response from someone who is responsible to you for your care. It is good to remember that most people who are infected by SARS CoV2 fall into the ‘mild’ category and that far, far more people suffer from traffic accidents than from COVID, but that we don’t panic every time we cross the road.

Trust the science. Desist chasing after myths and scams, which abound aplenty. There are more Covid-related myths than in the Iliad and the Odyssey put together; learn how to sift through the rhetoric and check the facts, from verified sources. Even if a claim is phrased in very scientific-sounding language, it could be utter and total nonsense. Scam treatment, dietary boosters, and mythical cure-all preparations may merely drain your pockets at the very least, but could cause extremely harmful side effects as well.

Should you follow a particular diet? No, there is no need to change your usual diet. Make sure you have a good spread of nutritious food and avoid fad diets that cut out particular nutrients. Make a point to remove cigarette smoke completely from your personal consumption, to give your lungs the best advantage.

Take personal civic responsibility for the greater common good. Let’s all agree that in the midst of a pandemic we must sacrifice a certain amount of personal comfort and preference to help the system to work as it is supposed to. Each of us needs to be responsible about travel, about hosting guests from Covid hotspots, and about reporting and getting tested if we have any symptoms. Those who consider themselves more aware and in positions of leadership and responsibility must lead from the front.

What mask to choose and how do I wear it?

  • Your mask is worn to protect those around you. Any mask that has multiple layers (at least three to four) – fabric, surgical/medical mask, or N95 mask without a respiratory valve – helps to reduce your own aerosol particles entering the air space around, thus protecting those around you. An N95 mask also greatly helps to filter the particulate matter that you are breathing. For more information, look at the WHO site for Covid information.
  • Wear your mask over your nose, mouth, and chin;
  • Do not touch the front of your mask;
  • To remove or put on your mask, use the cords attached; avoid fidgeting with your mask once it is on; choose one that fits you well and is comfortable to wear;
  • Masks are safe to wear all day and do not reduce your oxygenation;
  • For those who wear glasses, put on your mask and then place your glasses over the upper edge of your mask, to prevent fogging of your glasses;
  • Change your mask immediately if it gets wet, otherwise a mask could be used for a whole day;
  • A fabric mask should be washed before being worn again;
  • Disposable masks can be rotated to be worn every five days and stored in numbered paper bags so they do not get used within the five days; the paper bag allows for ventilation;
  • Discard a mask once it is visibly soiled;
  • Politely ask others to wear their masks properly when they are around you.

Should I worry about surfaces and packages?

  • Remember that people transmit COVID-19, not surfaces;
  • Sanitize your hands if you are in contact with frequently touched public surfaces;
  • Make sure you don’t touch your face, nose, mouth, eyes, or glasses without sanitizing your hands;
  • Don’t waste time, energy, and resources on sanitizing every small surface and package you come in contact with; be sensible and wise.

How do I sanitize my hands?

  • Sanitize frequently, using a sanitizer with at least 70% alcohol;
  • Rub an adequate amount over palms, back of your hands, between fingers, around thumbs, and around wrists, taking at least 20 seconds to make sure all these surfaces are adequately covered.
  • Note: when your hands are visibly dirty, you need to wash your hands thoroughly with soap for at least 40 seconds. It is a good idea to wash even if they don’t look soiled.

How else can I protect myself?

  • The best protection is mask, distance, and hand sanitization;
  • There are no preventative tablets or treatment that have been proven to provide protection/ prevention.
  • Please do not put yourself at risk of burns or illness from other unproven measures.

How do I improve my immunity?

  • Immunity is general and specific; no one has specific immunity to Covid until we get the illness or are vaccinated;
  • General immunity improves with a healthy diet rich in proteins and vitamins, and with adequate amounts of exercise and sleep; avoid dietary fads that focus on a few nutrients and exclude others;
  • There is a worldwide trend for vitamin D deficiency, which is an important factor in general health and immunity. Ensure you include vitamin D-rich foods (fish, dairy, nuts) and get enough time outdoors in the sun between 9 am and 3 pm (aim for the morning, as we get rain so often in the afternoons in Kodai). Apart from dietary sources and sunlight, vitamin D supplements will help to keep your levels above the recommended 30 – 50 ng/ml.

Vaccines:

  • India currently has Covishield (AstraZeneca) and Covaxin (Bharat Biotech). The Russian Sputnik V, produced in India by Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, has also been launched for the Indian consumer through the Apollo Hospitals from 18th May, 2021, at a cost of Rs 1,250 (currently only available in Hyderabad and Visakhapatnam, but soon to be extended to all metro cities).
  • Covishield and Covaxin vaccines have been available (except during times of shortage) at the Kodaikanal GH, the Urban PHC, Van Allen and KHMS. The Rotary Club of Kodaikanal has also been conducting weekly vaccination camps at the Rotary Office, near the GH on PT Road.
  • Vaccines are designed to present to the body a part of or the whole virus, altered to prevent infection, to stimulate the immune system to produce antibodies to recognize and fight off an infection.
  • For sufficient immunity, two doses are required. The interval advised for Covaxin is 4-6 weeks, and for Covishield 6-12 weeks. Optimal immunity (approximately 70 percent) develops 2-3 weeks after the 2nd dose.
Kodai residents waiting for their jabs (Photo credit Azad Reese)
கோடைவாசிகள் தடுப்பூசி போட்டுக்கொள்ள ஆர்வத்துடன் காத்திருக்கும் காட்சி. (படம் நண்பர் அஸாத் ரீஸ் கொடுத்துதவியது)

Dr. Malini Devanandan

Dr Malini Devanandan completed her undergraduate training at CMC, Vellore, and her post-graduate training in family medicine at the Christian Fellowship Hospital, Oddanchatram. She currently works at Kodaikanal International School.

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