As coronavirus cases have started appearing in India, it is increasingly becoming a major cause of public concern. The numbers of infected cases across the country are increasing and it is suspected that more people are either already infected or likely to get infected in coming days. This kind of part-panic and part-preventive attitude is increasing fear in general public. In such times, right guidance is very important. As they say, knowledge is power – thus here we try to answer the question ‘What can one do to protect oneself against this infection?’.
This question creates a panic especially in the minds of daily commuters, who use public transport- be it buses, metros or trains. These places as well as any other crowded places can be a hotspot of such infections. In India, these means of transport are used by thousands of travelers daily, thus providing an area with high transmission rates for respiratory illnesses. The respiratory illness spread mainly via-
- droplets (which are sprinkles of saliva which come out of mouth as we speak, sneeze or cough and often, we cannot see these droplets coming out of our nose and mouth).
- direct contact between fellow passengers.
These respiratory droplets produced by an infected person may land on shared surfaces like seats, handrails, seat handles, escalator handrails and others- where the virus remain viable for a considerable period of time. Other people may pick up the virus from these spots and catch the infection themselves when they touch their own mouths, eyes and noses with that same hand. On a regular basis, this is something we all do almost thirty times in an hour. Thus, congested transportations and travelling at peak hours- increases the chances of catching the virus due to overcrowding.
To reduce your risk, one can take the following precautions-
- Try to avoid peak travelling hours.
- While travelling in metros, buses etc, try to sit on a relatively secluded area.
- Keep away from touching surfaces like handrails and seat handles as much as possible.
- Make sure you wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water or use an alcohol based hand sanitizer after leaving a public transport, especially after having touched shared surfaces.
- It is important to remember- ‘do not touch your face while and after using a public transport till you use an alcohol based hand sanitizer or wash your hands with soap and water’- which otherwise will become a path for the spread of infection.
- IT IS RECOMMENDED- to stay away and maintain a distance of about 6 feet from people who are obviously sick, sneezing and coughing.
- Try to avoid traveling unless necessary
Act as a responsible individual. If you have travelled through any area with high coronavirus disease prevalence, or you have been in contact with a patient of coronavirus and have become ill thereafter, you should report to designated hospitals for further evaluation to prevent general spread of infection to others.
Last but not the least- maintain basic cough etiquette- e.g. cover your face and nose with a tissue or upper arm or turn away from other people while coughing or sneezing, maintain adequate interpersonal distance, used tissues should be disposed properly and use hand sanitizers whenever there is a need.
Basic precautions go a long way to prevent spread of viral infection in the community, including in closed spaces with close contact like public transportations.