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Thursday, June 4, 2020
Home Editorial Minimizing our COVID-19 exposure: We must do better!

Minimizing our COVID-19 exposure: We must do better!

There are medical experts who believe that most of us will at some time get exposed to or infected with the virus, COVID-19. Many government leaders, based on this view, contemplated minimal measures to counter the disease, but the way in which the disease exploded in Italy, overwhelming the health system in that G-7 country, forced a re-think.

Most countries in the world are now scrambling to check the spread of the virus. In Belize, the aim of our authorities is to prevent too many of us from getting sick at one time, for that would surely cause our health services to collapse. The added benefit for keeping the disease at bay is that as time goes by medical science will get to understand the virus better. They will find ways to treat it, or maybe even come up with a vaccine that will take away much of the virus’s sting.

If we will get the job done we will have to respect all of the measures that our authorities have introduced, to the letter. The authorities have been forced to put in place tougher measures to manage the movements of Belizeans returning home from abroad. It is essential that Belizeans coming home isolate themselves for at least 14 days.

There is much the experts have to learn about this new disease, but one thing they are absolutely sure of is that we must reduce our exposure. It is our observation that they might not be doing enough to train us about the use of safety equipment.

A factsheet published by newsroom.clevelandclinic.org says that a person “generally must be within six feet of someone who is contagious and come into contact with these droplets”, (and that) it may be possible to get COVID-19 by touching a contaminated surface and then touching our mouth, nose or possibly our eyes.

The experts are in unison about the need for social distancing, cleaning the hands with a sanitizer that has 70% alcohol, washing our hands thoroughly with soap, plenty soap, and resisting the urge to touch any part of our face with unclean hands.

Many persons who handle money are using surgical gloves in an effort to reduce their exposure. People who use gloves a lot know that gloves can actually increase your chances of getting contaminated if they are not handled very, very carefully. Improper use of gloves can also increase the exposure of others. Cashiers handle the exchange of money with each customer, and they also handle each item a customer purchases when they check these items at the register. It might be a good idea for shoppers/customers to check out the goods at the register, thus the cashier only handles the money.

Based on what we have observed, it might be advisable for those who handle money to put away the gloves. It might be better for all of us that cashiers protect themselves by sanitizing their bare hands after handling cash a number of times. We suggest that the Health Department have a discussion with persons who are using gloves to protect themselves, and if they deem it a satisfactory safety practice, that they use visual media to demonstrate its proper handling.

On March 18 the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended that we stay at least 3 feet away from someone who is coughing or sneezing, but now all the experts are calling for us to stay 6 feet away, especially from someone who is coughing or sneezing. It is not easy to maintain 6 feet between ourselves and our neighbors, but we must not only make every effort to do so, we must even try to increase the distance¯the farther di better.

Doctors and nurses attending to COVID-19 patients are getting sick at alarming rates, as much as 15%, even 20% in some hospitals. A story on the website vox.com, said that WHO found that healthcare workers are not at higher risk of getting infected; however, healthcare workers have a “higher chance of getting seriously ill from the coronavirus if they do get infected.”

The authors of the report said that one theory to explain that could be that the health workers are exposed to high levels of the virus when they are working in the hospitals, but no one knows “for sure.”

The staff at Yahoo News said: “Those infected with the coronavirus soon carry trillions of microbes; their saliva teems with them. When they cough, sneeze, talk, or even just breathe heavily they emit droplets laden with germs — a sneeze can launch 40,000 droplets.” If just hard breathing disperses the germs, COVID-19 will be very difficult to avoid. Our best, only response is to increase the space between us and others, as much as possible.

The experts are not in unison about the use of face masks. All agree that a person who has a cough should wear one, especially when they are around people, and some say persons who aren’t coughing don’t need to wear one, except when they are around people who are coughing. However, recent expert studies are suggesting that face masks are essential, that they should be worn whenever we go out in public.

There are masks that are especially designed to block out viruses, but these are not only expensive and difficult to breathe through, but they are also not easy to get. The regular masks that can be bought from a drugstore will reduce exposure through our nostrils and mouths, but they offer no protection to our eyes. They, like gloves, must be handled properly.

Some healthcare workers use face shields over their protective masks, and it is not impossible that for persons who are interacting with the public the face shield could be more effective than a simple face mask. The face shield is much easier to disinfect than a face mask and it might be more practical when the weather heats up. It is for sure that the face shield worn over the simple dust mask will give us better protection.

At the least a face shield will give you time to go for your handkerchief or rag if someone sneezes around you, and if you are wearing a dust mask it will stop you from touching it. A simple face shield can be made out of transparency paper which can be bought at any stationery store.

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