Coronavirus infection spread: Health and safety measures for COVID’s airborne diffusion

Updated: February 18, 2021 1:30 PM

Over a year has passed since the COVID-19 virus was first detected – its severity revealed through the nearly two million who have succumbed since.

coronavirusHowever, the emergence of new COVID-19 variants could complicate the picture if future virus mutations cause more severe disease or evade vaccines.

By Dr. Usha Chennuru

Over a year has passed since the COVID-19 virus was first detected – its severity revealed through the nearly two million who have succumbed since. This has left 92 million people infected in its wake. We struggled to control its spread by remaining inside our homes and enduring difficult national lockdowns across the world. Yet, hearing about new strains of the virus, signals that the perils of this pandemic are far from over. As we turn sanguine with the flattening of the curve in India, and watch as the country gears up for a nation-wide vaccination drive, we must recognise the unpredictability of this mutating virus and continue to strictly adhere to safety guidelines in order to stay safe.

As we safeguard ourselves, it is important to understand the ways in which the virus is transmitted and the symptoms the infection takes on. Primarily, people get infected with the novel coronavirus by inhaling infected respiratory droplets. This happens through direct, indirect, or close contact with an infected person’s secretions such as saliva, respiratory secretions or droplets that are expelled when an infected person coughs, sneezes, talks or sings. Some instances have been recorded where the SARS-CoV-2 is spread through airborne transmission – when aerosols remain contagious when suspended in air over long distances and time.

Once the virus enters the respiratory system – the group of organs and tissues enabling the body to breathe – it reveals itself in symptoms ranging from coughing, fever, headache, loss of taste & smell to shortness of breath. The virus then manifests as a respiratory illness that can range from mild to severe disease. While the contagion is fatal in some cases, some people infected with the novel coronavirus don’t even develop symptoms. So it is important to maintain the robustness of our lungs by avoiding smoking and exposure to polluted air.

The arrival of the vaccinations against SARS-CoV-2 offers respite and signals the beginning of the end for many. But as we await their testing and processing, we must keep in mind how deadly and baffling this quickly mutating virus is, and ensure that we do not relax our precautions to prevent its spread.

On that account, it is essential that we wear masks, and continue social distancing by maintaining six feet of space between us and others in crowded, public places. It also significantly helps to keep our surroundings disinfected, follow proper hand hygiene, do regular steam inhalation, gargle with salt water or medicated gargle to keep the throat and nasal passages clear, and and wear a mask at all times when we step out of home to undercut the transmission of COVID-19.

Living through a pandemic has been difficult, but we know that some people, including older adults, are at a higher risk of developing severe illness from this virus. So it is imperative that, as a community, we also focus on building strong immune systems by exercising daily, getting an adequate amount of sleep, alleviating stress and maintaining a healthy diet.

To get your dose of nutrients and antioxidants that keep harmful pathogens away, fill your plate with fermented foods, probiotics and whole plant foods including vegetables, seeds, legumes nuts and healthy fats,. Fruits and vegetables that are rich in vitamin C could help reduce the duration and intensity of the common cold and so, help in keeping your immunity fortified. If this seems difficult to achieve, then taking daily multivitamin supplements as per the body’s requirements post consulting your medical practitioner can help.

We are still far from approaching the finishing line where we might find our earlier sense of normalcy; where we get to surround ourselves with our community of loved ones. But the idea of community is founded in a sense of commitment and shared obligation with each other.

(The author is a physician with over 24 years of experience in providing medical support to pharma and consumer health businesses. She is currently the Director, Medical Services with Cipla Health Ltd. which has a host of consumer healthcare products. Views expressed are personal and do no reflect position or police of the Financial Express Online.)

Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article are the author’s own and Cipla Health Ltd., does not endorse any product in any way. Cipla Health Ltd., and the author disclaim all liabilities from use of the information. Readers should consult their doctor for the right use of medication to determine if it is right for their health.

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