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Covid 19 pandemic is not only a medical but also a psychosocial issue!

90 % of the COVID 19 affected people have recovered from it while Death or fatality rate remained as low as between 1-3 % across the globe but created unprecedented panic and stigma.

It is important to note that deaths due to cancers, cardiac and brain related ailments and even road traffic accident related deaths in India are much higher. Surprisingly the COVID 19 pandemic has created an unprecedented situation in India, there is a sense of panic and uncertainty amongst every Indian citizen. Continuous and erratically planned lockdowns have had negative impact on economies and livelihoods of people across the globe more so in developing counties. The conventional way of life is heavily disrupted. The old and vulnerable who are suffering from non-COVID illnesses are not getting access to healthcare. Mental Stress levels are high among all sections of society and Society has further stigmatized it due to ignorance.

With greater understanding of the illness, people should now begin to learn to live with COVID 19 or corona virus for years to come, availability of safe vaccine may take some time. We the people must take responsibility to protect ourselves from the disease. Governments can only create optimal infrastructure for diagnosis and treatment which is an ongoing process.

COVID 19 is a contagious disease which spreads through infected droplets from a patient to others who come in contact by inhaling the same. It can be transmitted through infected fomites and surfaces .Now studies show aerosol spread is happening too.

What we need to do.

• Wear masks outside (masks should be well fitting and cover nose and mouth). Do not fiddle with the mask. You will therefore not acquire or transmit if infected.

• Social distancing - Keep a distance of around 6 feet plus from people when you interact.(continue wearing mask.). The infected droplets will not reach you.

• Avoid crowded places (if unavoidable well-fitting mask mandatory). You will not inhale infected droplets

• Make handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 second a mandatory affair after returning from outside or contact with outside surfaces or material.

• Use disposable gloves when out shopping or for any other work. Dispose and wash off your hands.

• Do not touch your face, eyes, mouth without washing hands first when you have touched any outside object.

• If you come in contact with a person with symptoms like cough, fever, sneezing etc. Isolate yourself at home for10-14 days. Symptoms will come within 3-9 days if you get infected, must seek medical help.

• Do not panic. Most of us will get cured if we develop the disease. Seek medical help and do what is advised.

• Do not stigmatize the disease. It is a viral fever, but because it is in a epidemic stage the number of cases are very large and therefore the hospital capacity is exhausted. Treat it like other contagious disease.

• People who need ICU care like ventilation are few. It is mostly needed in ones who have comorbidity like diabetes, renal disease, high blood pressure etc.

• Symptoms of COVID 19 are like viral fever dry cough, low to high grade fever, sore throat, sneezing. In some cases abdominal discomfort and diarrhoea may be present. Serious symptoms may be difficulty in breathing, pain in chest, tightness in chest. Medical advice is mandatory. Do not hide, seek medical help and get test done if advised.

Pandemic is here. We have to carry on with our lives. Humanity has seen such challenge before and have overcome it. Our responsibility is to protect ourselves and get treated if affected.

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