A reminder of the healthcare guidelines for COVID-19

The healthcare guidelines meant to suppress the spread of COVID-19 as issued by World Health Organization and other health governing bodies including the CDC of the United States, European CDC, Africa’s CDC and nations’ health ministries including the Ministry of Health of Kenya are guidelines that all of us have become accustomed to, and most probably no longer take seriously.

Walking around town and the estates – it won’t take you long before you realise almost no one takes wearing of masks seriously. Social distancing is no longer observed, neither does anyone pay attention to the need to sanitise regularly. These healthcare guidelines, including the need for those operating in public places to regularly check the temperature of those who visit their premises, are key to ensuring that the spread of COVID-19 is contained; and here is why:

Sanitising regularly against COVID-19

COVID-19 is a disease caused by the now infamous SARS-COV-2 virus, one of the many coronaviruses that attack human respiratory system. Although lethal given that it kills between 3 to 5 percent of of a population that it infects, the virus isn’t really very stable. A simple soap is enough to kill it. This is because the outer coating of the virus is made up of lipids, a substance that is easily dispersed by soap. “Soap molecules disrupt the fatty layer or coat surrounding the virus, ” says Dr. David Goldberg, an internist and infectious disease specialist at NewYork-Presbyterian Medical Group Westchester and an assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons. “Once the viral coat is broken down, the virus is no longer able to function.”

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The implication of this is that regularly washing hands with soap is sufficient to keep COVID-19 away. As was the case when COVID-19 was first reported, hands ought to be cleaned every time a surface is touched, when walking into a building, walking out of a building, and any time you have felt that you haven’t washed your hands. Note, a regular soap is sufficient to get rid of SARS-COV-2, no need to over spend on designer soaps.

Wearing face masks

There was a meme spreading around asking, “If miners and other workers working on environments with dangerous fumes wear respiratory masks more robust than the N95 masks, how dumb are we to believe that the surgical and fabric masks are effective against SARS-COV-2?” The problem with the meme is in comparing SARS-COV-2 with the dangerous fumes. On one hand, the virus is at least 100 times bigger in size compared to a molecule of the fumes. Secondly, the special respirators used to lock out fumes are also fitted with activated materials like carbon which help to trap the dangerous fumes but allow air to pass through. Thirdly, the virus does not diffuse in similar to how fumes diffuse. The virus particularly require medium like saliva or sneeze to jump from host to a new target, and the fabric masks and the surgical masks help to contain the sneezes and saliva within a person’s face. Having this in mind should help you understand why it is important to put on masks in public places and at all times.

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Moreover, the reason nations world over decided to adopt the “put on your masks” policy is because at the onset of COVID-19, countries that had decided to push for wearing of masks reported slower spread of COVID-19 compared to nations that had thought that masks were not a necessity in the containment of the virus. Since then, numerous studies have been done on the effectiveness of masks in limiting the spread of COVID-19 and the results have been consistent – masks help contain the spread of SARS-COV-2.

Social Distancing

SARS-COV-2 mostly jumps from one person to the next when the person already infected spits or sneezes – or when such a person touches the other person. It is for this reason that it is important for you to keep away from people at least one metre away. This is because when people speak, then tend to tenderly spit out saliva that is likely going to land on your face when you are too close. In some, the spitting of saliva is not that tender, and you must have come across such people who you’d rather stay several meters away from when they speak. They tend to be loud too.

In the spirit of social distancing, handshakes must likewise be avoided. In Kenya the street greeting of gotea has since replaced the traditional handshake, and although this might not be 100% immune to COVID-19, it can be argued to be much safer than handshake, as people normally do not touch each other nor touch surfaces with the back of their hands.

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Getting vaccinated doesn’t mean you should stop taking precautions

Since November 2020 several countries have been rolling out mass vaccination. The 24 million dosses of the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca that was ordered by Kenya is expected to arrive in the country in the course of next week, and consequently some 12 million Kenyans ought to receive their double doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. As more and more people get vaccinated, there is likely going to be luxurity on observance of health guidelines mentioned in this article, but as researchers and medical experts have reiterated over and again, getting vaccinated doesn’t immunize against being a carrier. Until the entire world has received herd immunity against the virus, it is necessary for everyone to remember to keep observing the health guidelines at all time.

Odipo Riaga
Managing Editor at KachTech Media
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