DR. S.V. SINGH, OMBUDSPERSON - E-mail ID: ombudsperson@santosh.ac.in

COVID 19 or novel Corona Virus pandemic is causing a lot of anxiety among all the leaders of the world. It has brought all governments and health organizations on their toes. 

The epidemiology of the disease is as follows-

Agent: nCoV or SARS CoV-2 is a spiked virus with a diameter of approximately 50-200nm.

Host: Anybody who comes in contact with a patient of COVID-19 can become infected irrespective of age, sex, or occupation. Health care workers are at maximum risk of getting this infection. Health workers are at the front line and are exposed to hazards that put them at risk of infection of the COVID-19 outbreak response. Pathogen exposure, long working hours, psychological distress, fatigue, occupational burnout, stigma, and physical and psychological violence are types of hazards.

Environmental factors: The virus is spread by droplet infection and these droplets can settle on surfaces around us. The most important thing to know about coronavirus is that it can be easily be cleaned on the surfaces with common household disinfectants. According to the studies that the COVID-19 virus can survive for up to 72 hours on plastic and stainless steel, less than 4 hours on copper, and less than 24 hours on cardboard.

Mode of Infection: People can catch COVID-19 from others who have the virus. The disease spreads primarily through small droplets from the nose or mouth from person to person, which are expelled when a person with COVID-19 coughs, sneezes, or speaks. These droplets do not travel far and quickly sink to the ground and are relatively heavy. If people breathe in these droplets they can catch COVID-19 from a person infected with the virus. That is why it is important to stay at least 1 meter (3 feet) away from others. These droplets can land on surfaces and objects around the person such as on the tables, doorknobs, and handrails. Touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose, or mouth can infect people. This is why it is important to regularly wash your hands with soap and water or keep cleaning with alcohol-based hand rub.

The key to control of this pandemic is to break the chain of infection through self- protection. 

How to protect yourself during this time?

You can reduce the chances of spreading COVID-19 or being yourself infected by taking some simple precautions:

  • You can use an alcohol-based hand rub to thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or you can even wash them with soap and water. This can kill the viruses that may be on your hands.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance between yourself and others. Try to maintain distance from people as when someone coughs, sneezes, or speaks they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain the virus. You can breathe in the droplets if you are too close which includes the COVID-19 virus if the person has the disease.
  • Going to crowded places should be completely avoided. Where people are coming together in crowds. This is how you are more likely to come into close contact with someone that has COIVD-19 and it will get more difficult to maintain a physical distance of 1 meter (3 feet).
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth. As the hands can touch many surfaces and can thus pick up viruses. Once the hands get contaminated they can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose, or mouth. It is from there that the virus can enter your body and infect you.
  • Make sure that good respiratory hygiene is followed by you and the people around you. This means one should always cover their mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue whenever they cough or sneeze. The used tissue should be then disposed of immediately and hands should be washed. s. By following good respiratory hygiene, people can protect themselves from viruses such as cold, flu, and COVID-19 as droplets spread the virus.
  • Even in the case of minor symptoms people should stay home and self-isolate themselves such as when they have cough, headache, mild fever until they recover themselves. Arrange for someone who can bring you supplies. Wear a mask to avoid infecting others if you need to leave the house.
  • If you are having a fever, cough, and some difficulty in breathing, immediately seek medical attention but try to call by telephone in advance if possible and follow the directions of your local health authority as much as you can. The most up to date information on the situation in your area will be there with the National and local authorities. If you will call in advance then your health care provider will be able to quickly direct you to the right health facility. This will also protect you and at the same time help prevent the spread of viruses and other infections.

Different types of masks that can be used by people during this epidemic:

Medical masks (also known as surgical masks):

These are made from a minimum of three layers of synthetic nonwoven materials and configured to have filtration layers sandwiched in the middle. These masks have various levels of fluid-resistance and are available in different thicknesses two levels of filtration. The transfer of saliva or respiratory droplets from the wearer to others and to the environment is reduced by these masks. The likelihood of potentially infectious droplets is also reduced from others reaching the mouth and also the nose of the mask wearer.

Before putting on a clean mask and after removing the mask hand hygiene should be performed. These masks should be worn around the chin and top of the nose tightly. While it is on the face the wearer should avoid touching the mask and the mask should be immediately discarded if in case it becomes moist. Importantly, other preventive measures should also be taken along with wearing the mask which includes performing frequent and appropriate hand hygiene and physical distancing of at least 1 meter (3 feet).

Respirators (also known as Filtering Facepiece Respirators --FFR) and available at different performance levels such as FFP2, FFP3, N95, N99): 

These are specifically designed for healthcare workers who provide care to COVID-19 patients in settings and areas where special medical procedures are undertaken. Respirators are intended to protect the wearer when these medical procedures aerosolize smaller particles than normal droplets into the air in the health treatment area. Healthcare workers should be fit tested before using a respirator to ensure that the respirator is sealed tightly on the wearer’s face and is properly fitted. Respirators with valves should not be used as the purpose of source control.