The healthcare system of the whole world seems to collapse because of the highly contagious SARS-CoV-2. Unfortunately, there is no treatment of the disease and vaccines are under development. In such a scenario, to follow the preventive measures to reduce the spread of infection looks prudent. There are various ways to stay away from the risk of exposure. These include isolation and quarantine, Personal Protective Equipments, social distancing, sanitization, and hand hygiene.
COVID-19: Highly Contagious Disease
COVID-19 pandemic has shattered the healthcare system, economy, and health of the people throughout the world. The initial cases of COVID-19 infection came in late 2019. In January 2020, the World Health Organization declared the disease as a health emergency of international concern. In March 2020, COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. In February 2020, the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses named the disease as SARS-CoV-2.
Studies have indicated that the virus has 79.5% similarity with SARS-CoV while its similarity to bat coronavirus is 96.2%. However, its highly contagious nature and the significant ability for human to human transmission is because of the high affinity of its spike glycoprotein towards ACE2 receptors as compared to SARS-CoV. Fortunately, the mortality rate of SARS-CoV-2 is less (3.4%) as compared to MERS (35%) and SARS (9.6%).
The infection is highly contagious and spread through person-to-person transmission. The infected person when sneezes or coughs, it results in the formation of liquid droplets containing the virus. Depending upon the distance of another person, these droplets either stick on to mouth or nose or maybe inhaled directly into the lungs. The spread may also occur when the person touches the places infected with the virus. The virus may also enter through contaminated aerosols and fomites.
Measures for Safety and Prevention of COVID -19
Currently, there is no proven effective treatment for COVID-19. Various pharmaceutical companies have directed their resources to come up with the treatment for this pandemic. Till the time the medicine gets available, it is important to implement safety and protective measures to prevent transmission of this infection. Screening may help in reducing the number of cases. Following are some of the safety and protective measures for COVID-19:
Hand hygiene: One of the most effective measures for contracting and preventing the spread of COVID-19 is enhanced hand hygiene. However, washing hands properly is also an art. Some people wash their hands without water while some use soap but wash hands for a few seconds. For washing hands, you should remove the accessories such as hand bands or watches. Wet the hands and apply soap on them. Rub the hands with each other for 20 seconds.
Sanitizing surroundings: The surroundings should be sanitized effectively and frequently. Lift, railings, and doorknobs have the potential to spread infections if they have been used by a COVID-19 patient. Sanitize yourself with as quality sanitizer if you have touched any surface which is accessible to the general public.
Social distancing: Social distancing is an effective way to reduce the risk of transmission of infection. The droplets from the infectious person travel to some distance when the person talks, coughs, or sneezes. Maintaining social distancing may include the closing of schools and colleges and the suspension of occasions requiring public gatherings.
Avoid gatherings: People should avoid visiting the crowded areas as these areas are the hotspot for high transmission of disease. These include going to malls, theatres, or any public or private functions.
Personal protective equipment: Personal protective equipment, if worn properly, is an effective tool in controlling the transmission of COVID-19. People should wear masks properly according to the WHO, as the improper wearing of masks increases the risk of infection. Further, PPEs should be removed and disposed of as per the protocol.
Workplace measures: Effective measures should be implemented at the workplace to reduce transmission of COVID-19 infection. Social distancing should always be maintained, and employees should be advised to wear the mask. Sanitization should be done at the office.
Measures at hospitals for non-COVID patients: Proper safety measures should be implemented at hospitals for the patients who visit for getting treatment of the diseases other than COVID-19. All the areas and surfaces should be regularly sanitized, and the number of people at a time should be limited.
Stay at home: Staying home is the best method to avoid any risk of infection. You must go outside of your house only when it is necessary. Wear mask before going out and wash your hand and sanitize them properly after returning.
Avoid unnecessary touching: Avoid unnecessary touching of objects and surfaces at public places. These include railings, lift buttons, counter surfaces, and doorknobs. Always sanitize your hands after touching such surfaces.
Isolation and Quarantine: Isolation of the confirmed and suspected COVID-19 patients is an effective method to control community spread of infection. Quarantine is different from isolation in a way that quarantined a person may or may not be infected but is believed to encounter an infected person.
Upgrading testing capacity: Increase in the testing capacity will help in isolating the confirmed cases of COVID-19. It will help in the reduction in the rate of transmission.
Güner R, Hasanoğlu I, Aktaş F. COVID-19: Prevention and control measures in the community. Turk J Med Sci. 2020;50(SI-1):571-577. Published 2020 Apr 21. doi:10.3906/sag-2004-146