Covid-19: Break the Chain
In the span of just a few months, Covid-19, a virus that broke out from the city of Wuhan in China, has spread its clutches over more than 150 countries. Since the first case which was reported in November 2019, it has affected more than 240,000 people and stolen more than 10,000 lives. China alone witnessed the death of more than 3,000 of its citizens.
Four months after its outset, the situation in China is finally under control. But the European Union and the United States have instead become the new hotbeds of the virus. The startlingly disturbing increase in the number of deaths per day in Italy alone is raising much concern across the world.
On 11 March 2020, the World Health Organisation declared Covid-19 as a pandemic. With no proper vaccine or treatment, the governments across the world continue to grapple for ways to contain the spread.
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Thanks to technological advancements, the world is now one big village and what affects one nation, inadvertently does affect the others. The spread which began in Wuhan has even reached small island nations on the other side of the world. Even in India, the cases are on the rise every single day.
Cases are being reported from various parts of the country, Maharastra being the worst hit among all states. But rasing rays of hope, all those who contracted the disease so far have either been foreign nationals, Indians returning from foreign countries or those who were in close contacts with them. With no community spreading yet, we still have a chance to rein the virus outbreak and prevent thousands of deaths.
Covid-19 still has no definite vaccine or treatment. In such a situation, to prevent the forecasted disaster, all we can do is follow the precautionary measures advised by expert medical officials. The virus is not airborne, but it is transmitted person-to-person through respiratory droplets. So the most effective method for decreasing the spread of the disease is by minimising the person-to-person contact. It is with this understanding that the government has proposed ‘social distancing’ as a method of controlling the outbreak.
What is social distancing?
Social distancing is a prevention and control intervention. It is implemented to avoid/decrease contact between those who are infected with a disease-causing pathogen and those who are not. This will stop or slow down the rate and extent of disease transmission in a community. This eventually leads to a decrease in spread, morbidity and mortality due to the disease.
Mid-January saw the Chinese government take unprecedented measures to stop the spread of the virus within the country. More than 760 million people were confined to their homes, as entire cities went into complete lockdowns. This was the only way they could have tackled the spread of the pandemic. And such an effort did see fruit, as today, two months later the country is fast recovering. The number of new cases being reported in China is decreasing every day. Yesterday, 19th March 2019 was the first day since the outbreak where no new cases were reported in Wuhan. Lockdowns across the country are slowly being lifted. The temporary hospitals created to fight the disease have now closed down as the country slowly recovers from its nightmare.
India currently has more than 190 cases across the country with the numbers rising every day at alarming rates. In this situation, it has become essential that we as a community practice social distancing. To facilitate this, various state governments have already announced breaks for schools. They have also instructed spots of public gathering such as gyms, theatres, swimming pools, museums etc. to shut down.
Covid-19 has an incubation period which can be as long as 14 days. So even if one is infected, it will take days before the symptoms begin to manifest. And by this time, if the affected person is not in quarantine, those who interact closely with him are in danger catching the virus as well. This will, in turn, create a cycle and lead to a situation that the hospitals and the medical system will no longer be able to handle.
To avoid such a scenario of massive community spread as we first saw in China and now again in Italy, Iran etc., it is very important to observe the practice of social distancing.
Things to Do
- Try to stay indoors
- Frequently wash your hands thoroughly
- Use a sanitiser with over 70% alcohol
- Keep a 1-metre distance with others in case you are outside
- Try not to touch your face with hands
- Avoid shaking hands, hugging etc.
- Try to avoid social gatherings and postpone meetings, weddings and other events.
- Avoid non-essential travel
If you or anyone you know display these symptoms contact the hospitals in your state that have been specially equipped to handle Covid-19 cases.
During this time it is most important to beat the panic while remaining vigilant. The situation is not yet out of our hands and we can keep it in control with just taking care of ourselves and staying at home. Blind paranoia will lead us nowhere, so beware of fake information passed around to create mass hysteria. It is important that you learn to discern facts from myths and always cross-verify. Together, we can still overcome. We can break the chain!