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Covid-19: Risk factors and Prevention

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What are the risk factors for developing Covid-19 infection?

According to the WHO, anyone can develop Covid-19 infection, if exposed to the virus. Several external and internal risk factors determine the chances of contracting the infection and developing a significant disease. These are given below:

External risk factors for Covid-19:

1. Recent travel history to area or locality with the ongoing community spread as determined by the government authorities.

2. Close contact with an infected person. Close contact is defined as staying within 2 meters or 6 feet distance from an infected person.

3. Occupational risk factors. Occupations such as doctors, nurses, and other medical staff have been particularly found to have a higher rate of infection due to regular handling of the infected patients or materials. Another group that has been affected is the police officials who may contracted the infection due to coming in contact with the infected individuals.


Internal risk factors Covid-19:

1.Age: WHO has said that all age groups can catch Covid-19. However, middle-aged or older, especially people aged 60 years and above, are more prone to develop a significant disease and its complications.
2.Sex: men have been found to be affected more than females
3.People with underlying diseases or medical conditions
• Long-standing lung disease (COPD, moderate to severe asthma and others)
• Serious heart issues (heart valve disease, NYHA 3-4, coronary artery disease or history of cardiac surgery)
• Severe renal insufficiency (needing hemodialysis)
• Severe hepatic disease (cirrhosis ≥Stage 4)
Diabetes mellitus (poorly controlled insulin-dependent diabetes or with complications)
• Morbid obesity (body mass index [BMI] >40)
• Cancer with metastasis
4. People who are immunocompromised
• Drug-induced (chronic use of steroid or other drugs that suppress immunity)
• Patients with organ transplantation who are under immunosuppression
• Blood cancer
• Cancer therapies such as chemotherapy etc.
• Poorly controlled HIV with CD4 < 200/mm
5. Pregnant females

Source: WHO and ISIDOG COVID-19 2020 guidelines

How can you prevent yourself from getting infected?

As of now, no vaccine is available that can protect you against this infection. To prevent yourself, you need to follow the standard infection control measures, which aim to minimize the chances of contracting an infection.

Preventive measures against Covid-19:


Avoid close contact:

To prevent yourself from Covid-19, follow social distancing by maintaining a distance of 2 meters or 6 feet. This is especially important for people who have a higher risk of developing a serious disease. Avoid crowds and social gatherings, as many people carry the virus without developing any symptoms.

Cover the mouth and nose:

CDC has advised everyone who is going out in public, to cover their mouth and nose with a cloth face cover. The CDC has asked the general public not to use a face mask, which is meant for the doctors, nursing staff and other healthcare workers.

Cloth face cover is to be avoided in the following cases:

• Child below 2 years of age

• Person with trouble in breathing

• Unconscious person

• Person who can’t remove the mask


Hand hygiene and cleaning:

CDC has advised everyone to wash their hands frequently with soap and water. This has to be done, especially after coming from a public place, or after sneezing, coughing or blowing your nose. To effectively kill the virus, the handwashing should be done for at least 20 seconds.

In case, if soap and water are not available, one should use a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% of alcohol. You can look for a hand sanitizer containing 70% to 80% isopropyl alcohol and ethyl alcohol.

Each time you wash hands or use sanitizer, you should cover all areas of writing and rub them against each other.

Know more about CDC recommendation for how to maintain hand hygiene.

Know the steps to follow in cleaning the hands.

Avoid touching your face, eyes, nose, and mouth: especially when you are in a public place or have been to such a place.


Cover sneezes and coughs:

CDC has advised to cover your mouth and nose while coughing or sneezing. This helps to prevent the spread of the respiratory droplets, which may contain the virus if you are carrying it. CDC has advised you to use a tissue or inside of your elbow to cover your cough or sneeze. The tissue has to be safely disposed of into a bin, and you need to clean your hands to soap and water or hand sanitizer.


Clean and disinfect surfaces:

CDC has advised to clean and disinfect the surfaces which are frequently touched. These surfaces are door handles, mobile phones, keyboards, light switches, tables, toilets, sinks, and tap handles.

This can be done by using household bleach, which contains 5.25% sodium hypochlorite. The bleach has to be mixed with water in dilution of 1:99 (1 part bleach to 99 parts of water) to clean the general household area.

In places where bleach can’t be used,e.g., metals, it is advised to use alcohol such as isopropyl 70% or ethyl alcohol 60% to clean the item.

Know more about how to clean different surfaces.


Practice food safety:

Properly heat and cook food. Avoid having semi-cooked or raw food and keep it away from the cooked food. Use separate chopping boards and knives for raw meat and cooked food. Wash hands in between handling of raw and cooked food. Sick animals or animals that have died due to a disease shouldn’t be consumed.


Monitor your health for Symptoms of Coivid-19:

Be tentative about your health and any symptoms which may indicate a viral infection especially, fever, cough, shortness of breath, or loss of taste or smell sensation. Take temperature if you develop any symptoms. In case of any significant symptom or increased temperature, consult a doctor immediately, and follow his advice.


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