Coronavirus Outbreak: Still need to go to office? These steps are for you

Updated: Mar 16, 2020, 08:37 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon | Mumbai

As the government considers deploying drones for mass disinfection of public spaces, experts explain how people can maintain workplace hygiene in the time of Coronavirus threat.

D-Mart in Dahisar was overcrowded on Sunday morning with citizens eager to stock up in case they have to self-quarantine. Pic/Nimesh Dave
D-Mart in Dahisar was overcrowded on Sunday morning with citizens eager to stock up in case they have to self-quarantine. Pic/Nimesh Dave

Even as the government and civic authorities focus on disinfecting public places and civic hospitals, experts have emphasised on the need for strict personal hygiene not only at home but also at the workplace to avoid the spread of Coronavirus. Wash hands thoroughly with soap, between the fingers, too, even before you wash your face whenever you come from outside. Keep AC temperatures to between 23 and 25 degrees Celsius.

With personal, public and workplace hygiene being the mantra to keep COVID-19 at bay, health experts have mooted the idea of using drones and cannons to disinfect public places such as railway platforms, metro stations and markets in the city.

Metro workers disinfect escalators
Metro workers disinfect escalators

"Soon after the idea was mooted, the state government met senior officials from the railways, MSRTC and Metro and directed them to disinfect these areas," said Rajendra Patil, Minister of State for Public Health and Family Welfare. He added that the use of drones and cannons will be assessed based on the situation and need.

'No directive on the matter'
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation's (BMC) Executive Officer (Public Health), Dr Padmaja Keskar, said that they are waiting for directives from the higher-ups. While Sunil Dhamane, Joint Municipal Commissioner (Public Health), confirmed that civic hospitals have intensified regular cleaning and disinfecting of wards and visitors' areas.

(left) Mumbai Metro employees disinfect metro cars; A railway worker sprays disinfectant using a cannon.
(left) Mumbai Metro employees disinfect metro cars; A railway worker sprays disinfectant using a cannon.

"The aspects of prevention were discussed with various stakeholders at a meeting on Saturday. There is no directive on using drones to disinfect public spaces. Even if there is such a plan at the state level, respective agencies like railways or the MSRTC will execute it," said Dhamane.

Senior physician and allergy specialist, Dr Wiqar Shaikh, said, "The need of the hour is to educate masses at all levels on the need to sincerely and regularly practice personal, public and workplace hygiene. This can go a long way in curbing not only the spread of COVID-19 but also all sorts of communicable diseases."

Dr Om Shrivastava, an infectious disease expert attached to Jaslok Hospital said that some private hospitals have started spraying disinfectants approved by the NABH (National Accreditation Board for Hospitals & Healthcare Providers). "The disinfectants can kill any organism. The more we do this, the more the transmission from person to person will be arrested. Disinfectants like sodium hypochlorite or Bacillocid spray are used in hospitals to kill organisms."

A senior doctor added, "Disinfectants should be sprayed in large public places. Disinfectant drones and cannons are an effective means of preventing an outbreak."

BMC's Insecticide Officer Rajan Naringrekar said, "The World Health Organization has classified COVID-19 outbreak zones into Green, Orange and Red. We are in the Orange Zone where there are positive cases but no deaths. At present, regular cleaning in and around Kasturba Hospital is being undertaken." "At this stage, mammoth spraying of disinfectants in the entire city, which is spread across 437 sq kilometres, will be futile. The need of the hour is to maintain personal hygiene and in your surroundings," Naringrekar added.

Coronavirus not new for humans
Dr Pradeep Seth, retired professor, Head of Department, Microbiology at AIIMS (All India Institute of Medical Sciences) New Delhi and a virologist, told mid-day, "We must understand that the mortality rate of COVID-19 is much lower than SARS, H1N1 or MERS etc. The influenza claimed nearly 5,000 lives in the US last year and no one bothered to make a hue and cry."

"We must understand that human beings are not new to Coronavirus. Human Coronavirus 229E is a species of Coronavirus that infects humans and bats. The infecting virus is an enveloped, positive-sense, single-stranded RNA virus which enters its host cell by binding to the APN receptor. Along with the Human Coronavirus OC43, it is one of the viruses responsible for the common cold and we could easily overcome the same," said Dr Seth.

Area in square kilometres that will be disinfected

Maintaining workplace hygiene

According to Dr Pradeep Seth, retired professor, Head of the Department of Microbiology at AIIMS, New Delhi, and a virologist, here's how to ensure personal, public and workplace hygiene

. At workplace, the housekeeping departments must regularly clean and spray disinfectants in and around washrooms

. Employees must first wash their hands with soap as soon as they reach work. This must be done even before splashing water on their faces as the virus can enter the body through the palms. Clean the sides of each finger

. The temperature of ACs should be between 23 to 25 degree Celsius. Ideal temperature is 24 degree Celsius

. The virus cannot travel more than 10 feet, even while sneezing. It is the largest RNA virus as compared to other viruses and sensitive. Hence, it becomes dormant at a temperature above 30 degree Celsius. It is advisable to use a mask and cover the face while sneezing or coughing.

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