Follow health guidelines | Daily News

Follow health guidelines

The recent resurgence of Coronavirus cases at the Kandakadu rehabilitation centre for drug addicts has raised alarm bells among the population. However, the Government and health authorities have assured that there is no reason to fear a so-called “Second Wave” as the cluster has been contained and the contacts of everyone (workers and inmates) who went out to other areas have been traced.

Again, credit and thanks should go the health authorities and the Security Forces for moving in swiftly to contain any potential spread of the virus from this new cluster. There is no reason to doubt their assurances at this stage as they had successfully contained the virus so far. It is due to their efforts that Sri Lanka avoided the fate of other, more developed countries where thousands of deaths have been recorded. In fact, Sri Lanka has one of the best Coronavirus recovery rates in the world exceeding 90 percent, which essentially means that most patients have now recovered and gone home. They have to undergo another 14 days home quarantine just to be certain that they pose no danger to others in society.

However, the situation that emerged in Kandakadu is a grim reminder that the crisis is not over yet. One can observe a gradual “loosening up” of precautions in society, which were more or less followed to the letter during the three-month lockdown. Once the situation was brought under control to a great extent, the Government opened up the economy as keeping it closed for a longer period would have pushed the country to the brink of economic collapse. While life has almost returned to normal in this country, one must remember that it is a “New Normal” dictated by the Coronavirus pandemic.

In other words, it is downright imprudent to let the guard down as we are not out of the woods yet. Many countries where the authorities and people were too quick to let go of the tight restrictions are now reaping the whirlwind, facing a Second Wave of the disease, which can sometimes be even more dangerous. We certainly do not want to travel down the same path if we are to maintain our impressive record of keeping the contagion at bay. The World Health Organisation, foreign governments and many prestigious publications have praised these efforts. It is therefore essential that we follow the health guidelines and practices without fail. Prevention, they say, is better than cure – only in this case, there is no known cure yet.

Washing one’s hands with soap and water frequently, 20 seconds at a time, is said to be the most effective way of keeping viruses and bacteria away. If soap and water is not available or inaccessible, a sanitizer can be used. This essentially prevents us from touching our faces with unclean hands, the number one method of entry for pathogens of all types. The frequent cleaning of surfaces that we may touch frequently with effective disinfectants is another precaution.

Experts are now unanimous in saying that face masks are an effective deterrent against pathogens – multiple studies suggest that quality face masks have a 65-70 percent chance of preventing the entry of germs to your respiratory system. Thus it is advisable to wear one whenever you go out, though it is not strictly necessary to wear one in your own vehicle if you are alone or with close family members. It is heartening to see that our entrepreneurs have quickly caught up with the mask trend, but beware that not all masks in the market are equal. Some are obviously better than others, so make your choice accordingly. Face shields are also said to be effective, but they are impractical in most situations.

Beyond these, the most obvious recommendation is still social distancing. Always keep your distance from the next person, be it in public transport, office, supermarket or a restaurant. The only place where one need not practice social distancing is the home. At all other places, social distancing is recommended. However, with new evidence emerging that the Coronavirus can be airborne for some length of time, it is even more important to practice hand washing and wearing face masks. In fact, as an added bonus of the widespread use of hygiene measures following the Coronavirus outbreak, a drastic drop has been reported in all types of respiratory diseases in Sri Lanka including the Common Cold.

This does not mean that we have to withdraw into a shell again. Far from it, we can and should enjoy life once more, but without forgetting the risk posed by the Coronavirus. Hence the term “New Normal” – it is life as we know it, but with a few tweaks here and there. It will also help the authorities immensely to avoid another wave of the disease if we follow the health guidelines meticulously. Life must go on, but we must do our duty health-wise.

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