Covid-19 pandemic is far from over and one needs to be especially cautious in winters as it’s the season of viral infections including influenza and Covid. Amid pandemic turning less aggressive and people dropping guards, scientists and infectious disease specialists warn that Covid appropriate measures should continue. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: “Gaps in testing … and vaccination are continuing to create the perfect conditions for a new variant of concern to emerge that could cause significant mortality.” Omicron, the highly contagious variant of Covid, has more than 500 sublineages that is evolving fast. It is important to get tested when one has flu-like symptoms and wear masks in crowded areas. Regular hand-washing should not be ignored and it is important to keep good ventilation in offices, restaurants and other public areas. (Also read: Omicron BF.7 in India; experts on symptoms of new Covid variant, possibility of fresh wave)
“Covid 19 is a virus and we have been getting viral during the winters. It is important for people to protect themselves from seasonal flu and the possible new immune strains of the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2. It’s essential to safeguard yourself from the cold weather and stay healthy throughout the season. Though it seems difficult, there are several ways to keep the commonly suffering ailments away from your family,” says Dr Rajesh Chawla, Senior Consultant Pulmonology and Critical Care, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, New Delhi.
Sticking to the basic rules to prevent Covid spread, people should continue to follow measures to keep the deadly infection at bay. Children, elderly and those will chronic illnesses especially should be cautious.
Here are 7 tips to prevent Covid infection this winter season by Dr Chawla:
• Know the symptoms: The flu and COVID-19 are caused by different viruses, but they are both infectious respiratory diseases, spread by droplets and aerosols when infected people cough, sneeze, speak, sing, breathe, etc. They have similar symptoms, including cough, runny nose, sore throat, fever, headache and fatigue. People may have varying levels of illness with both the flu and COVID-19. Because symptoms are similar, it is important to take a test, so that treatment can begin quickly, if needed.
• Cover coughs and sneeze: Following a good respiratory hygiene is extremely important. It is important to cover the mouth and nose with a bent elbow or tissue when one coughs or sneezes.
• Get vaccinated: It is essential to get vaccine. Elderly and those with underlying conditions like high blood pressure, lung and heart disease, diabetes, obesity or cancer must get them vaccinated. The more fully vaccinated people there are, the better protected they are as well.
• Wear a mask: Masks help stop people from spreading the virus or being infected when droplets containing the virus are inhaled or come directly into contact with the eyes, nose or mouth
• Keep physical distancing: It is important for all viral infections which can spread from an infected person’s mouth or nose in small liquid particles when they cough, sneeze, speak, sing or breathe. Understanding, the situation, it is advisable to Keep a physical distance of at least 1 metre from other people
• Keep hands clean: People may pick up a virus by touching surfaces that have been contaminated, then touching your eyes, nose or mouth with those hands. Cleaning hands frequently eliminates germs that may be on the hands, including viruses.
• Meet outside or increase ventilation: All these viral infections including COVID-19 is more easily transmitted in crowded and poorly ventilated spaces and where people spend long periods of time together. Settings with increased risk of outbreaks include restaurants, offices and places of worship. Hence, it is advisable to go outside, whenever possible
“There is an increased risk of both the flu and COVID-19 circulating over the next few months. For a safer winter, it is important to understand the symptoms and who is at risk, get vaccinated, take steps to protect, and stay safe,” concludes Dr Chawla.