Don’t be careless, keep following safety measures

KATHMANDU

The government has come up with stage-wise plans to ease the lockdown which is positive for the recovery of a stalled economy and for healing different social complications other than COVID-19.

With this, the movement of people on the roads and public places are surging while more people will start going to office and work in the coming days. Similarly, more private vehicles will start to return to the roads, with places like department stores and other places also reopening.

Although the lockdown is being eased, it does not mean that there is no more risk due to the coronavirus pandemic. And there have not been any public health safety guidelines to ensure the safety of the public and communities as a whole.

Yet public health experts recommend following the basic safety measures to reduce the risk of getting infected as you enter the new normal.

Talking about the safety measures people should follow while they are out, Dr Sameer Mani Dixit, a public health scientist says, “It is simple — continue following preventive measures that you are currently following to be safe from COVID-19.”

Further elaborating, he says, “Wear masks all the time and maintain physical distance compulsorily every time.

Similarly, strictly avoid public gatherings and do not make crowds. There is also a need for strict surveillance from the security personnel to make people follow the safety protocols.”

Dr Dixit highlights that the public has to be disciplined on following such basic safety measures.

“If they do not, then that can bring about a catastrophic situation,” he cautions.

According to Dr Baburam Marasini, Former Director at Epidemiology and Disease Control Division under the Department of Health Services, wearing a mask, always maintaining one metre of physical distance from each other, and frequently washing hands are the three major weapons to reduce potential infection from the novel coronavirus to a large extent.

“Wear a mask as you leave your home, keep a social distance while you commute or go to public places, wash your hands as soon as you enter your office and when you return home from outside. Take off your clothes, bathe and also separate the clothes to wash as soon as you get back home if you suspect you have been exposed to the virus,” he says.

“Wait your turn when you go shopping and make sure you are maintaining social distance there.

Similarly, social distancing should also be strictly followed if you go to cinema halls, shopping malls and gym centres once they are reopened.

In contrast, it will be difficult to make children follow and stick to safety measures at schools, and such issues should be addressed,” he adds.

Stating that more people may have been doing family gatherings, parties and so on without following any safety measures, he states such activities can also increase the risk of the spread of the virus. With the ease of lockdown, more people are likely to socialise with friends and families as they get more freedom to do so.

However, Dr Marasini suggests not doing unnecessary meetings and gatherings, and even if you have gatherings, follow social distancing rules and encourage other people in the group to follow the same.

Moreover, Dr Marasini finds one of the principles of Hippocratic Oath ‘Do No Harm’ relevant to curb the spread of the new coronavirus.

“Do not harm other people deliberately.

So, keep yourself safe and others too by wearing a mask, following social distancing rules and maintaining good hygiene,” he shares.

Dr Dixit also emphasises on maintaining social distance while walking. He adds, “Riding bicycle is safe as you will be riding alone while it is better if only one person is allowed on a bike.”

Dr Marasini opines that it will be okay for two people to commute on the bike, but both should wear masks mandatorily. When it comes to commuting through public transport, he suggests wearing masks, gloves and maintaining physical distance to reduce the chances of getting infected from the virus.

“If everyone has worn masks, there will be a low chance of the spread of the virus,” he says and adds, “The public vehicles should not be congested while passengers should also avoid crowding while getting on and off the vehicle, whereas it would be safe to pay bus fare at open spaces.”

Things to keep in mind always

  • Continue following preventive, safety measures you are following
  • Wear face masks all the time
  • Maintain physical distance compulsorily — one metre of physical distance from each other • Wash hands frequently with soap and water; when you get to office, and when you return home from outside
  • Strictly avoid public gatherings; do not make crowds
  • Separate the clothes to wash as soon as you get back home if you suspect you have been exposed to the virus
  • Wait your turn when shopping; make sure you are maintaining social distance
  • Social distancing should also be strictly followed once cinema halls, shopping malls and gym centres reopen
  • Do not hold unnecessary meetings and gatherings; even if you have gatherings, follow social distancing rules and encourage others to follow the same
  • If two riders are on a bike, both should wear masks mandatorily
  • On public transport — wear masks and gloves, and maintain physical distance compulsorily
  • Passengers should avoid crowding while getting on and off the vehicle
  • Pay bus fare at open spaces

A version of this article appears in e-paper on June 16, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.