The Novel Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19 is spreading rapidly worldwide. At the time of writing, there have already been 1,68,890 confirmed cases, out of which, 6,516 deaths with China and Italy accounting for the majority of the cases (based on information from Microsoft’s Coronavirus Tracker). Other infected countries that rank high on the list of casualties include Iran, South Korea, Spain, Germany, France, and the United States. In India, however, the numbers still remain relatively low. So far, there have been 110 confirmed cases, of which 95 are active, 13 have recovered, and 2 have died. Goa has still not seen any confirmed cases yet.
India is ahead of the curve
Given that India maintains the world’s second-largest population, it has done extremely well in containing the spread of COVID-19. Call it good governance, but thanks to timely border restrictions and the setting up of emergency testing and quarantine facilities nation-wide, India has managed to stay ahead of the curve with regards to this frightening epidemic. While state governments can only do so much to prevent the spread of the virus, it’s on the citizens to also do their part in keeping themselves and their families safe.
As per reports, the next 15 to 30 days are the most crucial, which is why most directives are enforced until at least the 15th of April. It is now more important than ever to heed all warnings issued by health officials in order to stay ahead of the outbreak. Given how rapidly the spread of COVID-19 occurs, we are at a dangerous crossroads here in India, but we are more than capable of slowing down this outbreak even further and getting the disease under control. Failure to do so will mean India seeing confirmed cases increasing exponentially to the point where numbers will not increase in thousands, but in lakhs.
The Government’s role in COVID-19
Given that the first order of business for any Government during an epidemic is the safety of its people, here are a few directives that the state of Goa has put into place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
- The Government has invoked the Epidemic Disease Act of 1897.
- All educational institutes are closed till March 31st, though exams are to be conducted as scheduled.
- Gyms, casinos, public swimming pools, spas, pubs, clubs, and theatres are to remain closed as well.
- Restaurants and malls are to remain open.
- Goa Medical College Hospital has allocated ward number 113 consisting of 30 beds as an isolation centre for COVID-19
- Under the Epidemic Disease Act of 1897, the health department is allowed to reach out to private hospitals to help as well, further increasing the number of beds by 3500.
- All hospitals are mandated to have ‘flu-corners’ set up for the screening of suspected Coronavirus patients. These areas are to be distanced from the common OPDs.
The people’s role in COVID-19
Even with all the measures that are currently being put in place by the Government to help contain the spread of Coronavirus, there is still a lot that needs to be done from our end. These basic health and hygiene instructions have been going around for a while now, however, here they are again.
- Wash your hands as frequently as possible. This includes when returning from out, touching common objects such as doorknobs, ATM machines, taxi or rickshaw doors, etc.
- In case you are unable to wash your hands, you may use a hand sanitizer with an alcoholic content of at least 60%. Remember that hand sanitizer is not a substitute for handwashing. Hand sanitizers are only used in the event that soap and water is not available. Alternatively, there are a variety of anti-bacterial wipes that can also be used.
- Do not attempt to make your own sanitizer. Even though there is a shortage in pharmacies, provisions are being made to restock, and limits are being put on the number of sanitizers sold to one person. You can even find sanitizers online.
- If you have the flu or a cold and are coughing or sneezing, wear a mask to contain the spread of germs. You may not have Coronavirus, however, by spreading even regular flu germs, you are run the risk of weakening the immune systems of those around you. If you don’t have a cold or flu, or any associated symptoms, you don’t need a mask.
- Do not go ‘panic-shopping’. We need to be mindful of the fact that we are all in this together. With regards to hygiene items, remember that you keeping your hands clean is pointless if other people’s hands are dirty. Where food supplies are concerned, the closing of road lines and borders mean that the import of various food items will be strained, so don’t buy more than what you need.
- Avoid attending large gatherings of any kind, and go out only if necessary. In fact, limit outdoor exposure to just a few minutes in the morning to get a bit of heat. Sunlight and fresh air are extremely effective in the eradication of most viruses.
- Resist the urge to travel. With schools and offices going on lockdown, many may feel the desire to use this time off to travel. Don’t. Even if it’s within the state or country.
- Eat homecooked food as far as possible, and ensure that all meats are cooked properly.
- If you suspect that you may be infected after displaying symptoms such as throat pain, fever, and breathlessness, especially if you have travelled recently or come in contact with someone who has, it is important that you get yourself checked immediately.
- At a time like this, education is of the utmost importance. Do not spread fear and panic by sharing fake and unverified information through messaging apps. It is a known fact that fear kills more people than disease.
By following a few basic rules of hygiene and practising self-preservation, we can keep ourselves and those around us healthy and safe during this epidemic. For accurate information on COVID-19, you can visit the website of the World Health Organization.