In the age of Covid-19, life has changed dramatically. Whenever a person faces tough times, there are always two ways to confront a situation: Either you face it with resilience or accept your failure. But being a medical professional, and especially in these grim times, the former way needs to be followed.
Doctors and public hand in hand
However, in this time of crisis, responsibility to follow precautions also lies on the masses. The message is very simple and that is: Stay at home. Social responsibility is foremost. When things are not under control then wise and careful measures are needed.
In this early phase of the Covid-19 pandemic, with undetected cases accelerating transmission, even as testing ramps up, situation remains critical. Most obviously, we need health-care workers to care for the sick, even though their jobs carry the greatest risk of exposure and they are doing it nevertheless, in the best way. But their safety is very important.
In the index representing the outbreak in Wuhan, thirteen hundred health-care workers became infected; their likelihood of infection was more than three times higher than the general population. But the methods which they adopted, are very difficult to implement in countries like Pakistan. Yet there are lessons to be learned from the two countries which successfully battled the Covid-19.
Success stories: How best to tackle Covid-19?
Hong Kong and Singapore, both detected their first cases in late January, and the number of cases escalated rapidly. Officials banned large gatherings, directed people to work from home, and encouraged social distancing. Testing capacity was increased as quickly as possible. But even these measures were never going to be enough, had the virus kept on spreading among the health-care workers.
Primary-care clinics and hospitals in the two countries, like in the US, didn’t have enough gowns and N95 masks, and at first, even tests weren’t widely available. After six weeks though, they were able to contain the outbreak. And hospitals weren’t overcrowded with patients.
All health-care workers are expected to wear regular surgical masks for all patient interactions — to use gloves and proper hand hygiene — and to disinfect all surfaces before checking a new patient. Patients with suspicious symptoms (a low-grade fever coupled with a cough, respiratory complaints, fatigue, or muscle aches) or exposures (travel to places prone to Covid-19 or contact with someone who has tested positive) are separated from regular patients. They are treated at separate respiratory wards and clinics, in separate locations, with separate teams.
Social distancing is practiced within clinics and hospitals: waiting-room chairs are placed six feet apart; direct interactions among staff members are conducted at a distance; doctors and patients stay six feet apart except during examinations.
In these unpredictable times, I encourage everyone to show love to others, to protect themselves, and to stay strong during a situation that could make the strongest amongst us fall.
Remaining Hopeful but Knowledgeable Amid Covid-19 Pandemic https://t.co/LwliKARzgy
— BlogHerSphere (@HerSphere) March 21, 2020
What’s equally interesting is what they don’t do. The use of N95 masks, face-protectors, goggles, and gowns are reserved for procedures where respiratory secretions can be aerosolized (for example, intubating a patient for anesthesia) and for known or suspected cases of Covid-19. The fact that these measures have succeeded in flattening the Covid-19 curve carries some hopeful implications. We seem to be moving in the right direction, and the experience in Asia suggests that extraordinary precautions won’t be required.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, amid limited information, recommended stricter precautions than have been employed in Asia. WHO also recommends testing, testing and only testing to tackle the pandemic.
In South Korea, the success of wide-spread testing has raised the possibility that asymptomatic carriers were transmitting the virus.
According to the IMF, more than $83 billion has flown out of Third World countries since the beginning of the pandemic. It is “recorded as the largest capital outflow ever” and Bloomberg Economics says, it is more than $2.7 trillion across the world. Imperial College London reports that there is a danger of 40 million deaths due to this health crisis.
According to White House Task Force on Covid-19, one hundred thousand to two hundred thousand Americans could die from Covid-19.
When you have no choice but to leave home and go to work, amid surging cases, it is hard not to panic. It is high time for the whole world to focus on health sector and education instead of weapons. Climate change and Wet markets demand attention. Covid-19 is likely to spread for more than a year before a vaccine could be readily available.
Although, natural disasters have devastating effects, they can be minimized; just as the experience of some countries suggests. During these difficult times, it’s important to continue looking after our physical and mental health.
Read more: COVID-19: Has it attacked our brains?
Physical and mental health
Firstly, eat a healthy and nutritious diet, which helps your immune system to function properly. Secondly, limit meat consumption and sugary diets. Thirdly, don’t smoke. Smoking makes you more vulnerable if you become infected with Covid-19. Lastly, we all should exercise. WHO recommends 30 minutes of physical activity a day for adults, and one hour a day for children. We can walk, run, ride, do some yoga or just climb up and down the stairs. If we’re working from home, we should ensure that we get up and take a three minutes break every 30 minutes.
It’s normal to feel stressed, confused and scared during a crisis. Talking to people we know and trust could help. Supporting other people in our community will provide a sense of satisfaction. We should keep in touch with our neighbours, family and friends. Read a book or watch a movie. Remain hopeful, things will get better.
Dr.Zeeshan Khan is an analyst, political commentator, life Coach, contributor to the Op-Ed pages of Different Newspapers and doctor at CMH. He can be reached on Twitter at @DrZeeshanKhanA1.