The world is in a state of panic with fear of Corona and perhaps rightly so. Official, semi-official and unofficial guidances are pouring in from all possible sources. Social media has been promoting
The world is in a state of panic with fear of Corona and perhaps rightly so. Official, semi-official and unofficial guidances are pouring in from all possible sources. Social media has been promoting the use of masks only for sufferers of Corona infection and those who are having symptoms of cough and fever. Some experts have gone to the extent of suggesting that the use of mask for members of the general public may even be harmful. It may promote a sense of complacency among people, a false sense of safety leading to negligence of other precautions. Masks may be so ill-fitting that the user has to touch it frequently to adjust it, which may lead to transmission of infection. The virus is supposed to be transmitted by droplets coughed out by the sufferers. The purpose of the mask used by these people is to stop passing on the droplets to others. While this notion seems to make sense, it may not be entirely true and the use of masks by people at large may still have some protective value. There may be people who are infected and not aware of it. Avoiding relatively close contact with such people at public places may not be easy in populous countries which are not locked down completely yet. Use of mask in that situation may provide some protection at least. After all the infected droplets need to be inhaled to cause further infection and a mask over the mouth and nostrils will prevent the inhalation to some extent. It seems, therefore, that discouraging people from using masks may be an irresponsible act. What should be emphasized instead is that using a mask is not the end of your responsibility towards protecting yourself and others. Other precautions are equally important. Following are a few examples:
1. If you have cough and/or fever, confine yourself indoors and avoid coming in contact with people, specially children, elderly and those with chronic illnesses.
2. Wash your hands well with soap and water frequently and certainly after touching anyone or anything.
3. Avoid touching your face and eyes unnecessarily.
4. Do not cough in the open or on your hands. Use a tissue or your sleeve instead. Bin the tissue immediately.
5. Avoid unnecessary travels.
6. Avoid public gatherings.
7. If you suspect you may be infected with Corona, do not use antibiotics, they will not be effective.
8. When interacting with strangers or those with cough/fever, stand at least three steps away.
Dr Vibhash Mishra, London, UK, Chief Medical Officer, Second Medic
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