New Delhi: India is currently facing the threat of the coronavirus infection turning into a public health emergency. If this happens, the Indian Council for Medicine and Research is ready with the treatment protocol, as per Professor Balram Bhargava, Director General, DHR (Department of Health Research) and ICMR. While speaking to NDTV, he said that antiviral drugs have been used in China to treat the virus which may be used in India as well. He said,
As we have seen and read from the Chinese experience, we found that the antiviral drugs have been used in China. How effect they are we still do not know but they have been used in China. We have the same antiviral drug available in India used for the treatment of HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Viruses), so we decided and we did some laboratory works by docking studies as we call and found that some drugs are probably effective against this virus. Therefore we applied through the drug controller general of India to give permission to have a restricted use of these drugs as part of the public health emergency in very sick patients.
While the government and healthcare workers are working to keep people safe, there is no cure at present for the Novel Corona Virus. So according to medical experts and scientists, as responsible citizens, everyone needs to take at least following preventive measures:
- Maintaining proper hand hygiene by washing hands frequently with soap and water. One can also use an adequate amount of sanitiser and rub it properly on palms, fingers and wrists.
- Practising respiratory hygiene by using masks when in public
- Maintaining social distancing
- Avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth
- Seeking medical attention if symptoms of fever, cough and difficulty in breathing occur
- Practising general hygiene measures when visiting live animal markets, wet markets or animal product markets
- Avoiding the consumption of raw or undercooked animal products
- Protecting oneself and others from getting sick
As part of the Dettol NDTV Banega Swasth India campaign, we have been closely working on environment and health issues in the country for the last 6 years. Reckitt Benkiser and NDTV are committed to the cause. Gaurav Jain, Senior Vice President, Africa, the Middle East and South Asia (AMESA), RB Health India said,
Since we started this campaign we have focused on hygiene through the hygiene curriculum, various initiatives on hand hygiene so its important that all individuals and corporates to focus on handwashing to prevent the spread of the virus.
Trade has been affected globally after the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. Many trade fairs and industry conferences in Asia have been postponed because of the spread of the China coronavirus.
Dr Hiranandani, President Assocham spoke to NDTV,
It is important to take strong measures like fumigating products coming in from China, isolation of people and making sure there is awareness and no mistakes and most importantly life is more important that business.
Since the virus is new, there are still a lot of things unknown about it which has given rise to misinformation, unproven claims and rumors about false miracle cures. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared a global emergency on January 30, 2020, also noted that along with the virus, the spread of misinformation about it is also a matter of grave concern. It stated,
The 2019-nCoV outbreak and response has been accompanied by a massive ‘infodemic’ – an over-abundance of information – some accurate and some not – that makes it hard for people to find trustworthy sources and reliable guidance when they need it.
As health experts struggle to learn more about the virus, here are some myths propagating about coronavirus and a fact check by experts.
- Myth: Surgical face mask can prevent the spread of coronavirus
Fact: Surgical face masks cannot prevent infection from Coronavirus though it is recommended to wear a mask if one is going to a crowded space, or using public transport.
- Myth: Handwashing cannot prevent the virus infection
Fact: Handwashing is highly recommended by experts as a preventive measure.
- Myth: Pets can spread the virus
Fact: According to WHO, there is no established link that pets can be infected with the virus but recommended to wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after contact with pets.
- Myth: Receiving packages from China may risk contracting the virus
Fact: WHO has assured that coronavirus does not survive on surfaces of objects, so people receiving packages from China are not at risk of contracting the virus.
- Myth: Healthy individuals are not at the risk
Fact: Many people believe that only those individuals with a weak immune system or with other respiratory issues are at risk of coronavirus. But everyone is at equal risk so important to protect oneself by taking the necessary precautionary measures.
- Myth: Corona is the most dangerous virus that exists.
Fact: The common flu kills 60 times more people than corona annually.
- Myth: Gargling with a mouthwash protects you from infection with the new coronavirus.
Fact: There is no evidence that using mouthwash will protect you from infection with the new coronavirus.
- Myth: Eating garlic helps prevent infection with the new coronavirus?
Fact: Garlic is a healthy food that may have some antimicrobial properties but there is no evidence from the current outbreak that eating garlic has protected people from the new coronavirus.
- Myth: Putting on sesame oil blocks the new coronavirus from entering the body?
Fact: Sesame oil does not kill the new coronavirus.
- Myth: Are there any specific medicines to prevent or treat the new coronavirus?
Fact: To date, there is no specific medicine recommended to prevent or treat the new coronavirus (2019-nCoV).
According to experts, since there is no cure, its important not to believe in any cures and lead people to wrong guidance and follow basic preventive measures like hand hygiene, respiratory hygiene as well as keeping out surrounding clean. Dr. Guleria said,
The symptoms which are common to coronavirus will happen to a large number of people in this weather so the only reason that you could suspect that you may have coronavirus is the epidemiological history that you have travelled or some back to china or have come in close contact of an individual who the coronavirus infection or you are in a hospital managing such patients.
Its important to maintain good hygiene practises for good health. Dr. Guleria added,
In all viral infections as well as for corona virus is that if you cough, you should cover your cough, cough into your elbow, use a tissue and dispose it off properly. If you only use your handkerchief then make sure to get it washed properly and it does not help in spreading the infection. So coughing without covering your cough and not following good cough etiquettes you could be spreading the infection. Also important to do regular hand washing because that is another way that the infection can spread from one individual to the other. I don’t think there is a cause for panic.
The World Health Organisation has issued advice for the public. Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, Chief Scientist from the WHO added,
With information currently available for the new virus, WHO advice’s that measures to limit risk of exportation and importation of the disease should be implemented without any restriction of international traffic so WHO advice’s against the application of any restriction of international traffic based on information currently on this event.
While we cannot really look away from the novel corona virus and the threat it looms. It is important not to panic and spread misinformation. As responsible citizens, we must follow simple hygiene precaution. Washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, practising cough etiquettes and self-reporting, if you have any symptoms. Inculcating the habit of handwashing daily will not only help keep the coronavirus at bay but also build our immunity system and a healthier community.