SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19 as it is now known has made its presence and horror felt worldwide as a global pandemic. The corona virus IS deadly and CANNOT and must not be taken lightly. While it may have some symptoms in common with the flu, it is not like a flu, but more like pneumonia, and the difference is drastic and the consequences tragic. There are 3 things that we each urgently need to do at a minimum to reduce the risk to ourselves as well as to others:
- Cough or sneeze into your elbow, but NOT into your hands. The reason for this is two-fold: the virus is most easily and commonly spread by air droplets expelled upon sneezing and coughing and survives on various surfaces for hours or days and, we touch everything with our hands without giving it a thought, from face, eyes, nose, etc. to door knobs, pens, and a plethora of other surfaces. Sneezing into your elbow minimizes the risk of both.
- The corona virus appears to be destroyed by soap. Hence, frequent handwashing with soap and water (a good 20-second scrub, all fingers – all sides of the hand, both hands) will help reduce personal risk as well as reducing the spread. This method is better than using hand-sanitizers or alcohol, neither of which are emulsifiers like soap. Additionally, physically washing the hands removes the virus particles away from the body, an added benefit.
- Maintain a minimum of 6 feet from others to reduce exposure to airborne viral-loaded droplets. These droplets will settle on any surface they come in contact with, such as clothing, table surfaces and so on. This is known as “social distancing” (a misnomer, ‘physical distancing’ has a better connotation) and the new social norm is now “Namaste” instead of a handshake, a hug or a kiss.
Other common-sense suggestions for dampening the rate of spread are also straightforward. Stay home unless you are part of the “essential” workforce. Avoid group gatherings, even large family gatherings. If family members must go out, minimize drastically (no socializing) any contact with others while out, and practice proper hygiene and precautionary measures upon returning home but prior to or immediately upon entering. Sequester young children and the elderly – isolate and protect them! Check on your neighbors who may be elderly or those that need assistance. They, too, need help now more than ever. And while we are at it, please let them go ahead of you at the check-out lines.
If you experience any symptoms that may indicate CoVID-19, self-quarantine immediately and seek medical advice. Symptoms usually appear within a couple of days of exposure, and are coughing, fever, shortness of breath or trouble breathing, confusion, lethargy and malaise, or a bluish flush to the skin-tone from inability to draw adequate oxygen while breathing. When in doubt, seek medical advice immediately! Call ahead first to advise the medical personnel of your symptoms so that they can adequately prepare and not endanger their lives.
Following these simple and effective protocols will save countless lives, dampen the rate at which this disease spreads and keep our “essential” workers from being overwhelmed and causing untold suffering and financial and economic ruin.
Some important observations on flattening the curve, medications and vaccines. Quarantines are meant to flatten the curve to save lives. From an epidemiological standpoint, this very action may also prolong the curve and prolong the misery. Yet, it is necessary. It will allow scientists and health care workers to catch up and develop the necessary vaccines and medications to counter the pandemic. By doing our part and delaying exposure, there will be human herd immunity built up and vaccines and medications eventually available for those that need it. For those jumping on the hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin bandwagon, please realize that these are best prescribed by physician specialists such as rheumatologists as they can have serious cardiac side-effects, especially when used in combination. The results are preliminary at best and are thought to do nothing to prevent the disease. Please do not hoard these as you will deprive the patients suffering from serious diseases whose very lives and daily well-being depend upon these medications.
The self-quarantine is necessary. Life has thrown us a curveball. Stressing, however, is the most damaging thing we can do. We know already how stress hormones (catabolic hormones released during stress, like cortisol, adrenaline and norepinephrine) lead to physical, emotional and mental discord and ill-health. To use a tired old cliché, the cup IS half-full. Look around and take in what IS good – a roof over your head, food, family and health. An attitude of gratitude pays huge dividends. Use this time to re-establish family and social bonds. Do not allow physical distancing to literally become social distancing. Hug your loved ones. Get creative. Catch up on stuff you’ve been meaning to do but have been putting off, such as reading, cleaning, writing, singing and dancing, and so on. How about learning new skills or new hobbies? While on the subject of learning, how about learning the importance of a more plant-based diet? Be creative – be joyful! Being joyful, happy and peaceful releases proteins and hormones beneficial to sleep and significantly improves health and wellbeing.
How about Yoga? For those open to exploring, how about exploring inward now that you are unable to go out? Practice yoga and meditate. Learn about the true nature of the “I” or the real self. Even if one is not spiritually inclined, the health benefits alone are highly therapeutic if not downright awesome! However, if one is spiritual, who knows where this exploration may lead to? The sky is the proverbial limit!
Swami Vivekananda said, “On this basis, being right and doing right, the whole world can unite.” I see we are there. We are uniting as a family, as a nation and as a world. Let that last. Please let that be everlasting.
Be safe, be well, be happy. Above all, please, do your part to help #flattenthecurve!
Image Credits: Medscape.com
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