Covid essentials 

As the daily number of cases continue to increase amidst the easing of lockdown norms in the country, taking precautions and travelling only when necessary is key in breaking the chain of Coronavirus infection

The current pandemic has changed the very meaning of normal and there seems no end to the devastation it has caused to socio-economic life across the world. Even as the world tries to battle the deadly virus, steps are being taken to bring life back to normal even if it is the ‘new’ normal.

Starting in June, the Indian government started easing lockdown measures to restart the economy. Even as restrictions of the lockdown are being eased, the virus is spreading and the number of active cases in the country is on the rise. In such a scenario, where people are gradually going back to offices, commuting and reopening their businesses the ever-present threat of infection from the novel Coronavirus should not be forgotten.

To counter the threat of infection while commuting to and from work, opening shops and businesses and even when travelling, certain measures should be taken. Talking about the things to keep in mind when going about work or travelling, Dr Tarun Sahni, Senior Consultant, Internal Medicine, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals shares some insights.

Talking about the current situation and the effect of the Coronavirus on normal life, Dr Sahni says that we need to accept the fact that this is the ‘new normal’. He adds that “Social distancing, maintaining hand hygiene and wearing masks will be the norm till the time we don’t come up with a vaccine. In the meantime, people will have to learn to live with Covid-19”.

While learning to live with this virus, people who are out and about going to offices, travelling or engaging in other outdoor commercial activities need to take special care in their day to day life. A simple measure like changing clothes and bathing before getting comfortable upon returning to their houses can go a long way in keeping them and their families safe during the pandemic.

Precautions while using public transport

  • Use mask and gloves. Never leave for office without these essentials. Keep on replacing/ sanitising them at intervals
  • Sanitise your hands after touching any alien surface, especially in buses or trains or even inside cabs
  • Use a private vehicle if possible or make sure the transport you are taking has social distancing measures in place
  • Do not touch your face, mouth or nose, as this might increase the risk of infection
  • Make sure you do not sneeze or cough in the open. Carry a small packet of tissues or handkerchiefs and keep on replacing them during relevant intervals

Even after taking precautions, the risk of spread of infection while using public transport is high, therefore it is best to use it only as a last resort and in case of emergencies.

Similarly, while working in an office, even though they might have been sanitised, these steps should be taken to minimise the risk of infection.

Precautions for office goers

  • Make sure your workplaces are clean and hygienic – Surfaces (e.g. desks and tables) and objects (e.g. telephones, keyboards) need to be wiped with disinfectant regularly
  • Promote regular and thorough hand-washing by employees, contractors, and customers – Put sanitising hand rub dispensers in prominent places around the workplace.
  • Promote good respiratory hygiene in the workplace. Display posters promoting respiratory hygiene. Ensure that face masks or paper tissues are available at your workplaces for those who develop a runny nose or cough at work, along with closed bins for hygienically disposing of them – Why? Because good respiratory hygiene prevents the spread of Covid-19.

Another important area where people, especially office-goers, become lax in ensuring proper hygiene is when it comes to food. To prevent increasing the risk of infection, Dr Sahni suggests carrying home-cooked meals and avoiding eating out as much as possible. Even when you do have to eat out, precautions should not be overlooked, therefore, he stresses the importance of maintaining hygiene and sanitation at every level. He says “As experts, we would suggest to stick to home-cooked meals and avoid consuming anything sold by roadside vendors as these are places where maintenance of hygiene might not be practised”.

Precautions when ordering in

  • Wear gloves before handling the package
  •  Wipe/ sanitise the package before opening it
  • Sanitise or wash your hands after opening the package
  • Dispose of the package properly and wash your hands

While such measures are key to breaking the chain of infections especially in cities with a high number of active cases like Delhi, people who are travelling are also at risk of being infected and of spreading the virus. Therefore, those who need to travel must take special care when doing so.

Even though there are strict guidelines that have been imposed to arrest the spread of the virus in places some additional essential actions/precautions that travellers should take are:
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a flexed elbow or paper tissue when coughing or sneezing and dispose-off the tissue immediately
  • Maintain four feet gap between two people
  • Refrain from touching mouth and nose and remember to cover your mouth with a mask without fail.
Remember the Coronavirus pandemic is unlikely to leave us anytime soon and till the time a vaccine or a cure is found, people will have to live with it. While living with the virus, the best defences we have against its spread are social distancing, wearing masks whenever out and about, maintaining proper sanitation -- and travelling to work and other places only when it is absolutely necessary.  

Dr Reshma is an advocate of wellness, prevention and holistic healthInstagram handle: dr.reshmakhattarbhagat
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