New Delhi: Currently, the whole world is struggling to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus as it has spread to 177 countries infecting more than 7.2 lakh people and causing more than 34,000 fatalities worldwide, according to the World Health Organisation (on March 30). Many countries have been enforcing a complete lockdown to keep people at a distance from each other along with urging them to maintain hygiene and practice proper handwashing. However, as per experts, not enough focus is being given on stopping people from spitting in open or in public places. According to them, spitting can cause the spread of COVID-19 as the saliva of an infected person can carry the virus for more than 24 hours.
While talking to NDTV about the urgent need for discouraging the habit of spitting in public places, Basanta Kumar Kar, Recipient of Global Nutrition Leadership and Transform Nutrition Champion Award said,
Stop-spitting Movement is the need of the hour. This sickening habit can make people’s life infectious. Many people have this habit of spitting anywhere and everywhere- while walking, while driving their vehicles or being driven. Roads and public places are nothing more than bathrooms for them where they can unleash a stream of saliva directly in the path of people. Saliva carries live germs for more than 24 hours and can cause every respiratory disease including COVID-19 especially because it is caused by respiratory droplets and transmission may occur when these droplets enter the mouths, noses, or eyes of people who are nearby. Also, the spit does not just contain saliva but sometimes it also has mucus which is a habitat of many kinds of germs.
He further said that it is the high time that a public movement is started against spitting as the country has done against open defecation. He said,
To start with, anti paan (leaves of the betel plant wrapped around tobacco) spitting drive must be taken up on war footing.
According to Dr. Meenakshi Jain, Associate Director, Internal Medicine, Max Healthcare, Patparganj and Noida, if a person is on the receiving end of the spit, they must avoid touching that area until washed with soap and water or alcohol-based sanitizer. She further said that if the spit ends up on clothes, then one must change clothes as soon as possible and wash hands afterwards. She further recommends disinfecting those clothes by washing in hot water.
She recommended practising proper spit etiquettes. She said,
If spitting seems unavoidable when in public places, do it discreetly and with caution. Consider carrying tissues for spit and mucus and dispose those of promptly after the use. Avoid going out if you have cold symptoms like a runny nose, sore throat, or sneezing.
Taking heed of the public health hazards posed by the act of spitting, the state of Gujarat has recently banned it. This ban on spitting in public spaces has been put in place in order to curb the virus from spreading. While imposing the ban, Chief secretary of Gujarat, Anil Mukim said,
It’s established that the viral infection spreads through droplets. The decision is taken to stop the practice harmful for public health.” If caught spitting, you can also be fined Rs. 500.
— ANI (@ANI) March 15, 2020
The state of Uttar Pradesh has also taken a step towards discouraging spitting by banning the sale of ‘paan-masala’ which is consumed by many in the state.
कोरोना वायरस के संबंध में अपर मुख्य सचिव, गृह व सूचना एवं प्रमुख सचिव स्वास्थ्य की प्रेस वार्ता… https://t.co/kwsDRXdhzP
— Government of UP (@UPGovt) March 25, 2020
In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik also urged the citizens to follow sneezing and coughing etiquettes and said via Twitter,
My personal appeal to you is, this is an opportunity for Odias to stop spitting paan.
Every section of society should behave responsibly and desist from rumour mongering, misinformation and irresponsible conduct. Personally appeal everyone to stop spitting ‘Paan’.
— Naveen Patnaik (@Naveen_Odisha) March 13, 2020
‘Beautiful Bengaluru’, a citizen initiative working for a clean, green city has urged the central government to make spitting punishable by law because of the public health risks associated with it. They have demanded that during the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, awareness of the disastrous effects of spitting must be publicized in all media, along with imposing penalties on anyone found spitting in public places or offices.
Coronavirus Crisis In India
Coronavirus cases in India have crossed 1,000 mark with 1,251 reported cases including 102 recoveries and 32 deaths, according to the data provided by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare as on March 30 (9:30 PM). Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 24 announced a 21-day lockdown in the entire country to deal with the spread of coronavirus, saying that ‘social distancing’ is the only option to deal with the disease, which spreads rapidly.