How to Step Out Once Lockdown Eases?

Once Lockdown measures are eased and people are gradually allowed to move out of their homes, what should their strategy be?

It is important to understand that the Virus (Covid-19) has not gone away.

Until a viable Vaccine is made available and most of us get vaccinated, we will continue to be vulnerable to this threat.

In fact, as the numbers increase, our chances of catching an infection increase proportionately. And since a large percentage of affected persons are asymptomatic or have only mild symptoms it is impossible for us to predict who is carrying the disease. Thermal scanners can only pick up patients who have a fever – not the pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic cases. 

So the onus is upon us to prevent ourselves from this infection.

How to proceed post Lockdown

First and foremost, step out ONLY if necessary. Avoid going out for the purpose of a fun drive or for a casual social interaction – go out only for a specific important purpose- this is to prevent you as well as others around you from needlessly increasing physical exposure.

Remember – nothing about the virus has changed – it is highly contagious.

Precautions

1. Physical Distancing – The virus spreads by droplets/ coughing – staying physically distant would prevent you from catching an infection. Two Metres is good enough. I always use the phrase “Physical Distancing” rather than “Social Distancing”  which is the more appropriate term since it is the physical distance that will break the chain. Socially we can continue to be as together much as possible- on social media, on telephones. on video conferencing etc. 

2. Hand Washing – The gold standard for good hygiene continues to be frequent hand washing with soap and water. The Virus is an enveloped virus – the envelope is made up of fatty substance – the soapy detergent removes this envelope and deactivates the virus. As soon as you return from outside the house make sure to do a 20 seconds wash.

3. Hand Sanitizers – Second in effectiveness to hand washing, hand sanitizers must be from reputable companies with some certification/ accreditation and must contain about 70 % alcohol. Do not use unscientific products, herbal products, etc- not for the purpose of keeping your hands safe. Keep a small 100 ml portable bottle from a reputed company in your handbag – for use when water is not available.

4. Use of Face Masks – Face masks are as much to prevent you from catching an infection as for preventing you from passing an infection.

A 3 PLY FACE MASK

A 3 PLY FACE MASK

Which one? In increasing order of effectiveness – single-layered cloth mask, double-layered cloth mask, 3-ply mask.

 An N-95 mask is only recommended for healthcare workers or in case you are taking care of a Covid-19 positive patient at home. 

 The mask must be a good fit and MUST cover the nose. 

5. Avoid touching your face or eyes – Humans touch their nose/ face with their hands very frequently. You must avoid this. The use of a face mask prevents you from doing this. In case you have to, use the back of your hand rather than the open tip of the finger. If the urge is irresistible, sanitize your hand first.

6. Face Shield- There is considerable interest in the use of a face shield to protect your face. Industrial workers have been using them for ages. Hospital staff use them when operating on Covid-19 positive patients as well as part of Universal Precautions.  Instead of buying expensive face shields you can make them at home using sheet protectors/ binders and inserting a hairband through the holes/ perforations. In any case, they can be bought industrially and are not too expensive. Their advantages are more comprehensive face coverage to prevent droplet transmission as well as being reusable. The shield can be washed with soap and water and put out to dry and then reused.

When you venture out in the future it always important to remember that we carry out these precautions as much for ourselves as for those around us – the less the number of persons who get infected, the sooner the R0 number turns to less than 1 and disease transmission slows down.

Be safe always.

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