People of all ages must take precautions

People of all ages must take precautions

Dr Shamweel Ahmad Naqash

In humans, several coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). People of all ages can be infected by this new coronavirus. Therefore, people of all ages are advised to take steps to protect themselves from the virus.

Antibiotics do not work against viruses, they only work on bacterial infections. Antibiotics should not be used as a means of prevention or treatment of Covid-19. They should only be used as directed by a medical doctor to treat a bacterial infection. There is no evidence that any current medicine can prevent or cure the disease. WHO does not recommend self-medication with any medicines, including antibiotics, as a prevention or cure for Covid-19.

However, those affected should receive care to relieve symptoms. People with serious illness should be hospitalised. Majority of the patients recover due to supportive care.

How to handle a face mask

Please remember that a disposable face mask can only be used once. Before touching the mask, clean hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water. Take the mask and inspect it for tears or holes. Ensure the proper side of the mask faces outwards. Place the mask to your face and pull down the mask’s bottom so it covers your mouth and your chin. After use, take off the mask; remove the elastic loops from behind the ears while keeping the mask away from your face and clothes, to avoid touching potentially contaminated surfaces of the mask. Discard the mask in a closed bin immediately after use. Perform hand hygiene after touching or discarding the mask.


As we all know, prevention is better than cure. Precautionary measures will have a greater impact on shutting down the transmission cycle of the virus and preventing it from spreading in the community. A lot of prevention advice is going around, both good and bad. I hope it’s helpful to compile some of the former in one place. Here are steps everyone can take:

  • Stay at home. Only go outside for food and health reasons.
  • Maintain 2 meters (6ft) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol based hand rub or wash them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • After washing hands, the preferred strategy is to dry them with a paper towel; alternatively, a towel can be used but should be washed and disinfected daily.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
  • If surfaces are dirty, clean them: Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.
  • Always avoid crowded places.

The writer is Professor and Consultant Microbiologist, College of Medical Sciences, Prince Sattam Bin Abdul Aziz University, Saudi Arabia.

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