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Nowadays, everywhere one turns, many signs are encouraging various strategies to prevent Corona Virus Disease of 2019 (COVID-19). But we all need to appreciate that like everything else in life, these initiatives have good and not so good effects. Let us analyse the most common strategies, namely: washing of hands regularly with soap or sanitiser; using a mask to cover the nose and mouth whenever in public; and social distancing.
- Regular hand-washing with clean water and soap or sanitiser
Cleaning our hands regularly gets rid of most gems, including coronavirus if we happened to contact it.
The recommended sanitiser, which is effective against coronavirus is one with an alcohol content of more than 70%, or chlorine content of 0.05%. Frequent use of chlorine at this concentration can cause skin inflammation called dermatitis, where the skin may begin to peel off. Using alcohol-based hand sanitiser frequently can lead to skin dryness, dermatitis, eczema, and general skin irritation that can introduce other infections to the skin when it is cracked. To minimise these negative effects, create opportunities to wash hands thoroughly with soap and clean water, and have a moisturiser, ideally petroleum-based, handy to use and keep the skin moist.
The introduction of readily available alcohol-based hand sanitiser has brought temptation and curiosity to those who ingest alcohol. Train the children and youth not to consume hand sanitiser as the alcohol content is poisonous if ingested.
Sanitisers are for surface cleaning and external use only. They will cause severe organ damage if taken into the body in any other form like ingesting, injecting, or putting in through any body opening.
- Use of masks to cover the nose and mouth
Coronavirus is spread through droplets of mucus or saliva coming from an infected person. Covering your mouth and nose with a mask minimises the risk of the droplet going to another person.
Mask’s effectiveness depends on the material used to make it. Ordinary cloth masks do not protect the entrance of the virus if one is exposed to droplets of saliva/mucus from an infected person at a close enough range to go through your mask. The effectiveness is improved when everyone wears a mask and keeps 1-2meters apart.
Masks moisten up after being worn for a long time. A mask that is not washed keeps the virus and can infect the next wearer; therefore, it should not be shared or reused without washing( if made of cloth) Masks worn in airtight areas can make breathing difficult. Steam from the breath through the mask often moistens spectacles which makes reading or driving difficult for those who wear them regularly.
Cloth masks should not be given to children under the age of 2 years. Wash the cloth mask daily with water and soap to kill germs
- Social Distancing
Coronavirus, which is carried through droplets, can only travel a maximum of 2 meters (when sneezing). Staying 1-2 meters apart from people in a public area reduces the chances of contracting the virus. Minimising the number of people you come in contact with by staying home also reduces the risk of contracting the virus.
We all crave physical human contact, and extreme social distancing can lead to loneliness and depression. Try and keep in touch with people in other ways. Another factor to consider is that people view each other suspiciously, and those with flu-like symptoms get stigmatised. Stay away from other people if not feeling well.
More than 80% of people with COVID-19 recover without much complications and recovery is complete with no further infectiousness, so those who have had COVID- 19 should not be stigmatised. Coronavirus will be part of society for a long time, accept the new “normal” of social distancing. Social distancing avoids the spreading of other diseases beyond COVID 19.
By: Dr Bangwato Sikwa
SID Health Ministries Director