Well to start with, the first and paramount thought that strike my mind is an old proverb, “PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE.” Coronavirus has swept the world and left many anxious and searching for answers.Today I would like to share some of my actual experiences which forced me to think that are we really aware of what we are trying to deal with?Do we have sufficient information regarding this novel virus? because as a pharmacist everyday I have to answer many questions and clear the myths of customers that are very basic yet are very important to prevent the spread of the virus.My topic revolves around proper and correct communication.I am glad I got this opportunity to peep into the minds of many people and share my real life experiences.
There are some myths which are common among the people although there are guidelines set by the WHO and local health authorities of each country but still there is lack of awareness among the people specially the labours,domestic workers,drivers,and other people especially from rural areas maybe because they are not able to grasp the information correctly and this is not the case with just only such group of people but I have noticed even urban population fail to collect the right information. Another important factor is too much fear among people related to novel corona virus 2019 which ends up leading to false practices by people giving them a false sense of security. This can be stopped if there is a proper channel to communicate with people and clear their doubts. I would like to highlight some of the myths that are very common among the people these days and how we can try to get rid of them so as to maintain proper personal hygiene.
1)There is a pseudoscience being evolved among the people that if a person have dry cough he is not infected by covid19 and he lives in a delusion that it will not spread to others which is an utter nonsense. I remember two migrant workers came to my pharmacy a month back who were in a same delusion. It took few minutes for me to explain them that even if there is dry cough there are tiny droplets which comes of mouth and contaminate the air. A single cough can produce upto 3000 droplets,these particles can land on other people, clothing and surfaces around them and some of the smaller particles can remain in the air. While having a conversation with them I realized though they are aware of seriousness of covid19 but they are away from the the detailed information related to spread of covid19. Social media platforms are the best tool that can be used to create awareness about the seriousness of this disease but it should be done in the simplest way and in different languages and with deep knowledge because superficially the seriousness cannot be understood.
2)Wearing gloves can prevent them from acquiring the disease which is also a false belief ,infact it gives a false sense of security. People are in delusion that they are protected and then use gloves to touch themselves or touch their faces. One of my colleague working in technical department and me had a brief conversation about this. once I saw him taking off his gloves and using the mobile I told him to go wash your hands but he replied I m safe I m using gloves all the time, then I cleared his misconception . I explained as soon as those gloves are contaminated its just like your bare hands. There is no point of wearing gloves if you are not going to wash your hands every time you touch something. Even in your daily routine if you wear gloves you are touching many things like our phone,wallet,purse ,books and hence technically it is contaminated so you should avoid touching your face,fiddling with your face maskor doing anything that you do with your bare hands. This cross contamination often happens when you putting on and taking off your gloves. It is very important that people should know the technique involved in wearing gloves and removing them so as to avoid the cross contamination and also the precautions to be taken even after wearing the gloves. Same is the case case with face masks,though wearing masks provide a barrier to certain extent but certainly its not an ironclad gurantee that you will not get sick. Viruse can also transmit through the eyes and tiny viral particles can penetrate through masks. Masks are more preferred to be woren by person who are showing the symptoms of coronavirus or have been diagnosed or any other flu symptoms. So just wearing mask and thinking you are safe will not work unless you wash your hand with soap at regular intervals and avoid touching your face and most importantly maitaining distance with other people of atleast 2 meters.
3)Covid19 infects only elderly persons is again something which is becoming amajor barrier in fight against the covid19.I would like to quote an example of few of my customers between 16-40 age group who are relaxed and not paying too much attention to the preventive measures and guidelines laid by WHO and local health authorities. Government alongwith the local health authorities and police are working hard and putting all their efforts to stop the spread and prevent people from getting infected, it become our prior responsibility also to contribute for the safety of others and safeguard our nation by following the rules and regulations set by the government and help them achieve a healthier tomorrow, the action taken by young people like reporting the symptoms as soon as they appear and following quarantine instructions will have an important role in protecting the most vulnerable in society and in shaping the overall trajectory of the outbreak.
4)Drinking water every 15-30 mins can protect you from novel corona virus, a recent incident when a lady teacher informed me that she is drinking water at regular intervals, when asked about the logic behind this it was came to know that drinking water at regular intervals will help to wash the virus down the oesophagus so it can be killed by stomach acid.Again it should be understood that its not just a single or few viral particles that impact the health of a person but millions,so sweeping a few down the oesophagus is unlikely to have much an impact. Such kinds of misleading advices should be squashed so as to prevent the false sense of security among people so that they don’t get diverted from the actual message.
5)Rise in temperature will wipe of covid19, A driver who visited my pharmacy told me that he is driving everytime in the hot sun so there is no chance he will be infected as covid19 dies in hot weather. Pandemics often don’t follow the same seasonal pattern seen in more normal outbreaks. Also this a novel virus and very little is known about it so its not a good idea to take a sunbath daily for few minutes can kill the virus and prevent you from getting infected.
6) Few days back their was a sudden increase in sale of certain nasal sprays,vitamin c and some multivitamin tablets. As rinsing of the nose with normal saline is good from hygiene purpose but cant stop getting infected similarly using multivitamin can boost your immune system but cannot prevent a person from catching the virus.
These were some of the myths among the people which I came to know while dealing with few customers during my work time. I urge people to don’t fall for any false claims but instead stick to the guidelines laid by WHO. Also all health care professionals should come forward and try to communicate with the society through various social media platforms as this the only possible way we can create awarness among the people and clear their myths and doubts,attempts should be made to answer their questions by creating a online enquiry portal where people can ask their questions in different languages and can get the correct answer.In my opinion communication is the best tool to create awarness because more the communication more will be the chances to get rid of this novel virus and creating the positive environment.“Together we can and together we will.” So “LET’S TALK”
1)Wash hands frequently with soap and water or with an alcohol based sanitizer
2)Maintain atleast 2 meter distance between you other person especially if the person have flu like symptoms
3)Avoid touching your face,nose,eyes especially with unwashed hands.
4)Practice respiratory hygiene like cover mouth while sneezing or coughing or use an elbow bent to sneeze.
5)If feeling unwell or having flu like symptoms seek medical care immediately.
6) If diagnosed with covid19 follow the quarantine rules.
Author: Afaq Ishtiaq Qureshi