How Not To Be A Silent Covid Spreader: Reducing Risks Of Community Transmission In India

Along with abiding to social distancing and self-isolation, following few simple guidelines will prevent us from being carriers of the disease.

Even with lower number of reported Covid19 cases compared to many other nations, India is a major cause of concern for global healthcare experts. Low levels of testing, poor access to health along with dearth of hospital beds and ventilators put the world’s second most populous nation in a critical situation. While India’s preparedness to handle a healthcare emergency is still questioned by many, a more pragmatic way to diminish the chances of community transmission will be to efficiently practice all precautionary measures, attend to the early symptoms and reduce widespread infection by the silent ‘Covid Carriers - spreaders.’ 

While most discussions about this pandemic have been around the surge of cases and deaths, it must be noted that several lakhs of people have already recovered from Covid 19. More than 80% of all Covid19 cases are mild. Many recover on their own without needing any medical attention. Experts reveal a vast majority don’t even recognize they are infected. However, this population could be spreading the disease to others making the epidemic harder to contain. This new finding has led experts to review the action points to spread the community spread. Most people who are young and healthy could be silent carriers of the virus. So, what if you are one of those healthy “silent Covid Carriers - Spreaders” who could be inadvertently passing the virus to others? Or, assume everyone takes action as if they are carriers. That would be a more prudent approach to bring in the self-discipline, not just for the time being but for future too. 

Along with abiding to social distancing and self-isolation, following few simple guidelines will prevent us from being carriers of the disease. Living in a densely populated nation like India, it is important for each of us to take necessary precautions to reduce the risk of spreading the disease in the community. 

What can you do to avoid being a Silent Covid Carrier - Spreader?

1. Be proactive- Check if you have any of the prominent signs of Covid 19 including  dry cough, fever, sore throat, shortness of breath, headaches, body pains and gastrointestinal symptoms. Isolate yourself from others in the family and call up the local helpline in case you experience these symptoms.

2. Even if you are healthy or is having a normal cold, it is important for you to take good self-care during this infectious season. At any point if you feel unwell (eg. sudden shortness of breath can imply infection spreading to the lungs), or find it difficult to cope with symptoms at home, speak to your medical provider.  

3. Use over-the-counter medication to treat mild forms of cold or fever. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen could aggravate the infection in case you are carrying the virus. These drugs can also meddle with the body’s immune system, so steer clear from them for some time.

4. Limit stepping out from the house for at least a period of 14 days at a stretch. Always wear a mask while outdoors and maintain a distance of at least 6ft from others. Avoid touching doorknobs, lift buttons etc with unwashed hands.  If you are having any mild symptoms, make sure you completely stay at home and self-isolate in a bath-attached bedroom with minimal contact among members of the family. 

5. Maintain personal hygiene. Try to use handwashes and soap on a regular basis. Disinfect the frequently touched surfaces of your house every day. 

6. Practice respiratory etiquette like coughing to a cupped elbow or tissue and discarding it responsibly.

7. Try to minimize contact with elderly members of the family through cocooning (protective measures suggested for those over 70 years from coming contact to infection). If possible, you could move to another setting while making arrangements for their food and other essentials so that they don’t have to step out of the house. Kids and pregnant women will also need special attention during this phase.

8. Drink plenty of fluids since viral infections can lead to dehydration, or vice versa. Drinks like alcohol can worsen dehydration. 

9. Eat more balanced meals and cut junk. If you are feeling loss of taste or appetite, it could be an alarm sign to watch for. Consume natural immunity booster foods like garlic, ginger, yogurt, broccoli etc. to fight the incidence of infection.

10. You will need at least 6 to 7 hours of good sleep. Practice some indoor fitness routines to ensure you stay fit throughout this lockdown period. Avoid strenuous activities in case you experience any flu-like symptoms.

Mild symptoms which don’t improve within a week through self-care need to be brought to immediate medical attention. Incidences have shown COVID-19 can worsen quickly among the vulnerable group. This includes people with a history of heart, respiratory, kidney diseases or immune deficiency, those above 70 years, who are on oral steroids or had a solid organ transplant. These high risk groups will need specialized care. An ideal recovery environment should provide 24X7 medical supervision, a quality rehabilitation team (comprising of nurses, respiratory therapists, counselors etc), a home-like environment with all hygienic measures in place. 

Most recent developments indicate, those who completely recover from the infection can still be contagious, for at least 10-14 days from the first day they fall ill. Hence it is important for everyone to abide by the guidelines to curb all possibilities of transmission. Despite having extremely mild or no symptoms at all, you could still be spreading the disease to many healthy people or endangering the lives of the vulnerable. Even countries with well-established healthcare systems have failed to efficiently control the outbreak. Hence, it is imperative on our part to reduce the pressure on our healthcare system by promptly attending to the early symptoms and not contributing to the unwitting spread of the virus.

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