Why is it such a big deal?
The virus is highly contagious, every sick person gives it to at least 2-4 people, so it multiplies exponentially and although 80% people develop only a mild disease, the 20% or so who get sick will need hospital beds which they will occupy for an average of 10 days, out of this 4-5% will need ICU beds and ventilators which they may occupy for weeks. Since the virus spreads fast and the disease manifests shortly after infection, if left unbridled many people get sick at the same time. The number of hospital beds, ICU beds and ventilators are limited and much lesser than the demand that can be expected if people get sick as fast as we have seen in other countries. The protective gear available for health care workers are also scarce which means they have a real chance of becoming sick and exposing their co-workers leading to large numbers of them going into quarantine resulting in reduction of health care capacity.
The gist is that if we don’t control then number of cases before the explosion, people will die in the corridors of hospitals, this is a scenario you would not have witnessed in your life time or may be even your parents in their life time.
Why not just quarantine the sick and their contacts?
The virus produces symptoms anywhere between 5-14 days after entering the body. The virus spreads mainly through 2 modes- cough droplets and through surfaces that a sick person has touched after touching his own face or mouth or coughing or sneezing into his hands. The number of virus in our secretions may already be high enough to transmit disease before we start showing symptoms. So if you have the virus and go about your daily routine, you may get sick only after 2-3 days but could have transmitted the disease to 3 people already who are on their way to spreading to other people even before you have been tested positive.
In the absence of social distancing we meet anywhere between 10-100 people a day. If you talk with a person for 15 minutes while sitting within 2metres of each other, he has chances of contracting the disease from you, even if you don’t cough or touch them.
What can I do now ?
Stay indoors, follow the news, do what the government tells you. Even if some of the policies do not look sensible immediately, time will tell you its value.
Try to minimize the number of outings you need per week. Plan your menu and make a list of groceries and other consumables, like soap, hand wash, batteries, drinking water supply if you don’t have a filter at home. Account for the fact that use would be more than usual since everybody is at home. Try to limit trips to once a week. Arrange to have milk delivered instead of going out everyday to buy. Or store in fridge after boiling so it keeps longer. There are online apps for groceries and vegetables. Avoid hoarding, it is a waste of money and resources for you and ends up in unnecessary scarcity for others.
You are avoiding the major mode of transmission by keeping indoors. Just be careful of frequently touched surfaces like door handles, lift buttons and handrails of stairs etc if you live in an apartment. Live virus is known to survive for extended periods on surfaces, but it is believed it cannot survive long in temperatures more than 30O . After bringing in groceries it is good practice to wash plastic/ tetra packs before putting into refrigerator. Avoid putting the metal or plastic packs of drinks etc directly to your mouth without cleaning them. Do not let kids handle supplies before you’ve cleaned them. Wash your hands thoroughly after putting away your supplies. Do not touch your face, eyes or mouth without washing your hands.
I am an essential service provider and need to go out, what can I do to keep myself safe?
Try to take all precautions possible. Use individual transportation, not more than 2 in a car. Try to maintain social distancing at workplace, avoid congested coffee rooms and dining areas. Plan to have the common areas, doorknobs, lift buttons cleaned frequently. Wear masks if you are a person coming into close contact with outsiders. Avoid touching your face, frequently wash hands following all 10 steps. Keep a hand sanitizer with you try to use it before you touch your personal work surfaces, if you have a cubicle.
Carry minimum number of objects when you go out and try to bring back the bare minimum to home, you could leave everything except your keys and phone in the vehicle itself. Also make sure to wipe your phone with a specific solution or with spirit (rubbing alcohol), especially if you have kids, because they’re sure to handle it as soon as you set it down. Wash your hands immediately and change your clothes and take a bath before sitting down on the sofa or bed or having food or tea.
I have health issues, what do I do?
If you have pre existing diseases, you are more vulnerable to CoVID, try to stay at home, take your regular medicines, hospitals are providing tele consultations, utilize that. If you have people living with you who still need to go out of home, try to keep your distance from them.
Try to keep exercise routines within your compound walls. If you live in a gated community, try to keep away from social walks, explore indoor exercise options, there are thousands of videos on you tube that you can follow and keep yourself fit from your living room.
I heard that certain medicines predispose to infection, Should I stop them?