Since there no specific cure or vaccine for COVID-19 is available yet, we could prevent the spread of this deadly pandemic by changing our lifestyles and following some etiquettes.
Some specific rules suggested by the World Health Organisation (WHO) needs to be followed. For example, washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, using a mask while outdoors, maintaining social distancing, staying indoors and avoiding public gatherings. We also need to be accustomed to a few more social etiquettes like giving up shaking hands, hugging and greeting by kissing someone's cheeks.
Lockdowns alone may not be the only way to prevent COVID-19. Rather, avoiding public gathering and quarantine of the elderly and vulnerable is the best way to reduce the mortality rate by the disease. Simultaneously, efforts should be made to formulate effective strategies for the already existing service facilities to improve the necessary health service delivery for the treatment of the sick population. It is imperative to have proper planning and implementation of the existing healthcare system.
Diagnosis should be confirmed through definitive examination and triage needs to be done for COVID-19, suspected and non COVID-19 cases based on clinical criteria. Properly diagnosed and identified cases need to be hospitalised or isolated as needed. Everyone else who has come in contact with them must be traced and needs to be quarantined and monitored separately.
The most important thing is to emphasise on the need to use masks in public and use them properly. We must motivate the public to do so, i.e. to eliminate the habit of wearing the mask over or below the head/around the neck and hanging around the ear on one side. Always make sure that the mask is well fitted covering the nose and chin. Hands must be sanitised or washed before touching the face, eyes or nose. There should be strict protocols and implementation of health hygiene etiquettes in all public transportation, bazaars and shopping centres.
We should try to increase immunity naturally by having adequate sleep, as sleeping and the immune system are closely linked. The antioxidants found in vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds help reduce inflammation by fighting compounds called free radicals. Healthy fats found in olive oil, freshwater fish and seafood can reduce inflammation and increase immunity. It is also important to drink plenty of fluids to keep yourself well hydrated. Exercising regularly can keep you fit and help to reduce your stress.
Until the vaccine for COVID-19 is available, we have to get used to the 'new normal' lifestyle to cope with our lives. There is no alternative to abiding etiquette and proper hygiene practice. Gradually we will have to learn to adapt to the pandemic and other mutant viruses that may emerge in future.
The writer is the President of Bangladesh Paediatric Association.