Doctor speaks: All you need to know about handling coronavirus
Even as the deadly coronavirus is on a roller coaster ride across nations, throwing normal lives out of gear, here are a few tips that would enable one to survive its onslaught. Going by the age-old adage “prevention is better than cure”, one needs to get vaccinated for influenza to keep COVID-19 at bay.
Even as the deadly coronavirus is on a roller coaster ride across nations, throwing normal lives out of gear, here are a few tips that would enable one to survive its onslaught.
Going by the age-old adage “prevention is better than cure”, one needs to get vaccinated for influenza to keep COVID-19 at bay.
Speaking to The Federal, DR D Suresh Kumar of Chennai Apollo Hospital said that the influenza vaccine will help combat the virus as it affects the lower respiratory tract largely.
“While people are concerned about coronavirus, there is another virus which affects more people and that is the influenza virus. It also leads to cold, fever, cough and respiratory difficulties. So, it is better to get vaccinated for influenza and that will take care of the major part of the problem” he said.
“The number of deaths caused by the flu are higher than the corona. As of now, only US have proper documentation of deaths caused by the flu. More than 18,000 have died because of flu, since last September. Normally, flu and COVID-19 come together and create a lot of problems. If one gets vaccinated for influenza, the problems caused by the flu gets halved,” he added.
Calling upon people to avoid crowded places he said, “We advise people to avoid crowded places. Today, hospitals became one of the most crowded places. If we take influenza vaccine, we can avoid hospital visits to a large extent,” he further added.
When asked to clarify on who all should take the vaccine he said, “Anyone above 6 months can have influenza vaccine. Many think that the vaccine should be taken once in a lifetime. But each and every person should get vaccinated once a year.”
Generally, viruses don’t survive in summer, because they would get killed when exposed to heat. But flu viruses can survive throughout the year. In 2009, the flu viruses spread in India, in the months of May and June, the specialist said.
If one suffers from cold or cough, he or she should isolate oneself work from home. With regard to medicine, paracetamol tablets are time tested and safe. They can be taken. But don’t try any antibiotic medicines, cautions Kumar.
“Institutions should have a liberal leave policy in moments of crisis,” he added.
Contrary to the notion about wearing masks to ward off the virus, Dr Kumar is of the view that masks for the general public are unnecessary.
“The panic has created a scarcity of masks. Doctors and nurses who need to work in operation theatres find it difficult to procure them. Likewise, carry water everywhere and whenever you feel that you have touched an unclean surface, clean your hands with water,” added Kumar.
Talking about the scenario in the US he said, “The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the US has so far not approved any medicines to treat coronavirus. But there are plans to give approval to use medicines which are used to treat flu.”
Referring to the UK guidelines on how to handle coronavirus he said, “According to their guidelines, if you have fever for more than three days, cough, breathing difficulty and body pain, you call a doctor and visit a hospital either in a private vehicle or in an ambulance. If you have just cough, call the doctor and follow his advice,” said the infectious disease specialist.
To date, those who succumbed to coronavirus were above the age of 60 and they all had comorbidities such as diabetics, heart problem, and kidney-related diseases.
“And this is China experience. We are yet to know about Italy, South Korea, and the US,” he said.
When asked about the Tamil Nadu government’s handling of coronavirus, Kumar said that the state has not given permission to the private hospitals to ‘probe’, in spite of having all the facilities. The ‘probe’ means, conducting Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test to confirm COVID-19.
“The government has said that it can manage on its own. However, it has asked the private hospitals that have testing facilities to be prepared to step in if the situation gets out of control” added Kumar.
Elaborating on the limitations of identifying infected people, he pointed to the arrangement at airports and said that travellers may test negative if they had taken medicines for cough at the time of screening. This also puts Ola and Uber drivers at risk.
When The Federal contacted some of the cab drivers, they said that the companies had not given any instructions to address the issue.
“In the case of Kancheepuram patient, he first went to Stanley hospital where two doctors diagnosed him. Now they have been asked to be in isolation. We don’t know where the doctors are now. Besides, the doctors are not given proper safety gears,” said G.R. Ravindranath, general secretary of the Doctors Association for Social Equality.
The association has also urged the state government to provide insurance cover for doctors and nurses treating Coronavirus patients.