Coronavirus: These simple choices can save you during this deadly time
By Dr. Zulfikar Bux
Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine, Vanderbilt Medical Center
Kaieteur News – Over the past month, we have seen more cases and deaths from COVID-19 than any other period. While we await confirmation of a new strain circulating here, it would have to be silly not to assume that this wave of infections and deaths does not come from a more lethal form of the virus. Scientists have discovered that the new variants from Brazil, the UK and South Africa, can be up to twice easier to catch than the previous circulating strain. This means that we will have to tighten up previous practices if we are to avoid becoming infected from these deadly strains of the virus. Today, I’d like to revisit the basics and highlight some simple measures we can take to reduce our chances of becoming infected.
Your choice of location
One is more likely to be exposed and infected if they are in outbreaks. Avoiding case districts, hospitals, highly populated environments and closed places will benefit you. The more people you are exposed to, the higher your chance of being exposed to an infected person. If you choose to interact with others in enclosed spaces, then your risk of acquiring an infection is higher. Once inside, there is no free air flow and potential viruses will re-circulate instead of being spread. So your chances of inhaling the virus will be higher compared to being outside, where virus particles are quickly dispersed by free-flowing air. Therefore, try to avoid crowded environments, enclosed spaces, and high-risk areas and you are less likely to become infected.
Your closeness to others
The virus can only spread when people are close enough to pass it on. The further away you are from others, the less likely you are to become infected. Avoiding overcrowded places, especially in environments where there is irresponsible behavior, is therefore key to reducing the risk of infection. Places where celebrations such as parties, weddings, socializing etc. pose higher risks for the spread of infections are and should therefore be avoided. So anytime you see a concentration of people, try to avoid it if you can and maybe avoid the virus at the same time.
How long you are exposed to others
A person’s chance of becoming infected increases with every second, they are exposed to an infected person. So the less time you spend around others away from home, the less likely you are to expose yourself to the virus. Every second counts especially when you are in a high risk environment. It is best to assume that everyone is infected until proven otherwise and limit your risk of exposure. So when you’re around, remember this fact and limit how long you expose yourself to others.
Get screwed up right
Now that we are aware that the new virus strains are spreading about twice more easily than before, we need to tighten up our mask-wearing skills even more. The virus can still enter your body if you wear a mask and expose your nostrils or if your mask is loose fitting. You may have ended this practice before but not with the new strains that are circulating. Make sure your mask fits tightly and your nose and mouth are properly covered. Some experts even recommended that a close cloth mask be placed over the regular masks worn for a tighter fit and greater protection. Any place you leave around your mask is a potential space for the virus to enter or escape if you are infected.
This new wave is just beginning and many more will become infected and some will die sadly. We all have a responsibility to protect ourselves and those around us. Our behavior will determine how many more lives are lost. Vaccination, behaving responsibly and choosing responsible environments is the key to protecting ourselves and saving others. Choose wisely! Live longer!