Hello guys, I am sure that by now everyone on this planet has heard the word ‘Coronavirus’—unless you have been living under a rock all this time— and how it’s wreaking havoc in every continent save for Antarctica, at the time of writing this post.
WHO (World Health Organization), declared the rapidly spreading COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic on 11th March. WHO defines pandemic as ‘the worldwide spread of a new disease‘. A panicky atmosphere has cloaked us all. People are being advised to avoid crowds, practice social distancing and to give importance to personal hygiene. But they are getting anxious about their future as there’s uncertainty as to when would this end and they are worried about their loved ones. A general sense of helplessness is taking root in everyone upon watching/reading news about the large number of people succumbing to the infection with an ever increasing number of positive cases every single day.
Standing in front of the tv, watching news of healthcare workers at the battlefront doing everything they can to protect people and governments trying their best to contain the spread (though delayed in some cases) but still seeing no signs of the pandemic slowing down can be demoralizing to anyone. The question Is there anything more that I can do to ensure my family’s health and my own? is plaguing everyone’s mind. So, in this post, I would like to share with you a few things in addition to SOCIAL DISTANCING and taking care of PERSONAL HYGIENE that we could do to alleviate our anxiety.
Before proceeding further, I would like to call attention to few terms that we are coming across frequently these days, but which are being used wrongly many times in the social media.
- SELF-ISOLATION – people who have tested positive for the virus or people who think they have the virus are advised self-isolation. They should not have direct contact with anyone. They have to stay in a room alone if they are living with other people or stay in the house if living alone. This is for people who don’t require hospitalization. Duration is for 7 days from the onset of symptoms. After 7 days, if they don’t have a high temperature there’s no need to stay at home. If they still have a high temperature, they should stay at home until their temperature returns to normal.
- QUARANTINE – people who have been exposed to the virus and don’t have symptoms. They should have no direct contact with anyone for a period of 14 days. This is mainly to keep them away from unknowingly infecting others.
- SOCIAL DISTANCING – people who have not been exposed to the virus, but take steps to reduce social interaction with others so as to help in reducing the transmission of COVID-19. This is for an indefinite period.
TAKE IT SERIOUSLY but DON’T PANIC
On one end of the spectrum are people thronging the beaches or other public places in hordes, case in point- when some maha people took to streets in large numbers instead of standing in their balconies/practicing social distancing at 5 pm on ‘Janata curfew’ day March 22nd, clapping/ringing bells/beating their utensils to express gratitude to the healthcare workers. Probably, the order should also have included a clause stating that people thronging the streets, risking everyone’s lives, would be dealt with the same items with which they have descended upon the roads, maybe that would have made them stay put in their houses! At the time of writing this article, the SARS-CoV-2 has infected over 350,000 people worldwide, with deaths numbering over 15,000. To people who are still not taking this seriously, I would like to tell you that we might have weathered through several pandemics over the years, but experts say that the last time we had a pandemic like this was the 1918-1919 flu, which killed about 50 million people worldwide. The 1918 flu along with the bubonic plague are considered as two of the worst pandemics to ever hit the world. We don’t know yet if COVID-19 would ravage the world to the same extent as the 1918 flu, but it’s about time we stopped treating it as just a flu, and start treating it as THE FLU.
And, on the other end of the spectrum are —maha, but of a different variety people— who have taken this situation to a whole different level by buying masks, sterile gloves and sanitizers in such huge quantities, that in future when their great-great-grandchildren would stumble upon their ancestors’ trunks, they wouldn’t find antique paintings/gold, but antique masks and gloves! Just a simple question, if you are planning on working from home and have no plans whatsoever of venturing outside, why are you hoarding these products like people eating at a free buffet? This behaviour has caused a shortage of masks, gloves and sanitizers for people actually in need of them—healthcare workers. You are risking their lives. Don’t panic, but please also act responsibly.
STOP SPREADING FAKE NEWS!
The advent of internet has proven to be a double-edged sword. If on one hand, one can access information from any corner of the world, on the other hand, the amount of fake news circulating online is truly mind-boggling. I firmly believe that if Fake news and Coronavirus were to participate in a 100m sprint race, Fake news would be at the finishing line before Coronavirus has even started. A person has to complete a rigorous 5 1/2 years Medical course before she/he is deemed capable of treating patients and advising people concerning health issues, and still would think twice before doing so. But nowadays, every other person is an honorary graduate of ‘WhatsApp University’ in every subject, and they are not thinking/caring about the repercussions before forwarding messages with a racist take on the COVID-19 or messages like cow urine being successful in treating COVID-19 patients or the virus leaving one’s body if she/he stands outside, stares at sun and chants ‘Go Corona’ or believing that ringing bells can dispel the virus or even that eating garlic morning, noon and night would ensure that SARS-CoV-2 would not come near them. Forget Coronavirus, even people would not come near you if you are emanating garlicky odour throughout the day. Come to think of it, that might actually work in favour of preventing the spread of the infection.
So, what can we do? First of all, let’s stop believing that every WhatsApp message or every social media post—regardless of whether it starts with, ‘According to Indian centre of… or according to American society of…’—is real news. If we receive such messages, let’s not forward it to others unless it’s from a trusted source. Let us break the chain of fake news circulation, because not everyone makes an effort to verify if the messages they received are fake/real and can get panicked unnecessarily. Only read the printed media aka newspapers to get updates on the evolving situation. You can also access trusted sources like the WHO website and the websites of national and international newspapers and agencies.
TAKE CARE OF BOTH YOUR PHYSICAL AND MENTAL HEALTH &
REACH OUT TO YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS
Just because you are working from home, you can’t use that as an excuse to become lazy. You are fortunate enough to get to have the option of working from home, and please remember that Doctors and other healthcare workers do not have that option. The least you could do is to take care of yourself in these testing times. Dedicate at least half an hour a day to exercises. So what if the gyms are closed? There are many Youtube videos showing exercises that do not require you to be at a gym and which you could do in the safety of your home. Eat healthy or try to eat healthy as much as possible. Just knowing that you have exercised and ate healthy would improve your mood instantly.
And just as important as physical health, is your mental health. I know it’s hard to be stuck at home not knowing how long this pandemic is gonna last for. Everyday, the situation is changing and COVID-19 is all that the news channels speak about day in and day out. Seeing those depressing news everyday can suck the life out of anyone. At the same time, just so that we could feel better, we can’t turn a blind eye to everything that’s going on and live in blissful ignorance. We have to reach a compromise. You could turn on your news channels for a little while in the morning, get all the important information so that you would know where exactly the world and especially your government stands that day in the fight against COVID-19 and then turn it off, as anyway, the news anchors will be repeating the same thing in different ways most of the times. And then you could concentrate on your work or your health or your family/friends for the rest of the day. And in the evening, you could turn on your news channels again to see if there are any updates. Please remember, taking stress will help no one. If possible, please lend a helping hand to anyone you feel is suffering mentally. That brings me to my next point.
Today, as we are all aware, internet has made the world smaller. Regardless of in which continent you are, you could speak to your loved ones making eye contact, thanks to FaceTime/WhatsApp/Hangouts/Google Duo or other video calling services. It’s not like in our parents’ time when one would wait for days to receive a letter from their loved ones. And today, more than ever before, there is a need to reach out to your family and friends. Remember how in our childhood if we would wake up from nightmares, our parents would cuddle us, reassure us, and not leave till we would feel all right? It’s now our turn. This pandemic is nothing short of a nightmare, and the older population is at a higher risk than the younger generation. Let us not allow the distance in miles to come between us and our loved ones. Just a phone call to reassure them and to guide them through this difficult time by educating them about the importance of social distancing and maintaining personal hygiene would not only help them to alleviate their fears, but that virtual human-to-human contact would be beneficial for us as well when we are cooped up inside our houses for days at a stretch.
AND FINALLY, LET HUMOUR BE YOUR WEAPON OF CHOICE IN FACING THIS PANDEMIC!
Paying attention to the government announcements, listening to the Doctors and social distancing doesn’t mean that we have to walk around with a perpetual frown on our foreheads. Let ‘Humour’ be our weapon of choice in facing this pandemic. No matter how much I worry, Coronavirus will not stop suddenly and say, ‘Oh, poor Navya is worrying so much. She has to stay inside when the spring has already set in and the flowers are in bloom outside. Let me not cause her stress anymore. Let me stop ravaging the world’. Hence, I try to lose myself in the world of ‘The Common Man’ cartoons sketched by RK Laxman as often as possible. All of his cartoons from the cartoon strip ‘You said it‘ that he wrote for The Times Of India newspaper daily for over 50 years, where his ‘common man’ character represented general public witnessing the making of democracy, have been compiled into a series of books. His sketches are relevant even today.
Now is also the time to watch those silly movies which always manages to leave you in stitches.
Sir Isaac Newton was in his early 20s when he was sent home to his family estate, Woolsthorpe Manor, from Cambridge when the Great Plague hit London. The year he spent away from Cambridge was the year he began work on his discoveries in the fields of Calculus, Optics and Motion. Outside of his window at the manor, was ‘the apple tree’ that led to the discovery of Gravity. So folks, you never know, when this pandemic is behind us someone could very well have invented a machine, in the time she/he practiced social distancing, that transfers the food directly from my Amma’s kitchen in Shimoga to my apartment in New York in a matter of seconds. One can hope.
Remember guys, we are in this together and we will get through this together. On the fervent hope that people who clapped from their balconies on the ‘Janata curfew’ day, showing their gratitude for Doctors’ work, would remember the same even after the pandemic is over, I would like to conclude my post by urging you to ‘STAY POSITIVE & STAY HOME’.
If you would like to read medicine related topics or want more COVID-19 related blog posts, mention in the comment section below.