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Ever since the lockdown lifted, people have started stepping out of their homes. What initially started as small, necessary trips to the grocery store have now grown into visiting friends and family for small get-togethers, evening walks, and long drives.
There is no denying that we all need our loved ones close to us more than ever in these tough times. While video calls and phone conversations help us stay connected to them, meeting them truly warms the heart.
A small reminder: The COVID-19 pandemic is still going on. People are getting infected and even dying because of it.
So, is it safe to meet friends and family?
“It’s not yet safe to socialise or party in these pandemic times although the lockdown has been eased. Currently, certain parts of our country have partially entered the phase of community transmission (a situation where the source of infection in a community is not traceable). Perhaps, this is the most crucial stage of the disease to spread as the source may remain unidentified and contact tracing may be next to impossible,” says Dr. Amitabh Parti, Director, Internal Medicine, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram.
“It is imperative that people understand that leaving home to venture out should be a pure necessity. We must encourage only virtual meetings online or over the phone as social distancing still remains the need of the hour,” he adds.
But, what if we’ve started meeting immediate family and close friends?
Now, if despite our expert’s warning, you still want to take the risk and begin physically meeting friends and family, here are a few precautions recommended by Dr. Parti to help you stay safe:
1. A social distance of at least 6 feet between you and another person must be maintained at all times as the virus is spread by droplet infection that can rarely travel beyond this distance.
2. Wearing a well-fitted mask covering the entire mouth and nose area which is well anchored to the back of the head must be worn if you plan on going out as these are the two primary sources of entry of the virus into your body.
3. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth as the virus that has made contact with your hands might be able to gain access to your system if you do this.
4. Hand hygiene is vital to prevent self-contamination. Thus, either an alcohol-based sanitizer or a soap handwash should be appropriately used for 20 seconds. This should be frequently followed, especially if you are out of your home.
5. Keep the Aarogya Setu App handy to stay updated about not only your own safety status but also to make yourself aware of the status of the area you’re visiting. In case the area is a containment zone or a hot spot, the same will be reflected in the app.
6. If you have any flu-like illness such as fever, sore throat, dry cough, and are experiencing an absence of smell or taste, these may be the early signs for you to consult your doctor for further advice. Needless to say, you must avoid meeting people under these circumstances.
7. Take off your shoes outside the house. Keep a separate set of slippers for going out. Your shoes can catch dirt and be easily contaminated. Leave them outside the house.
8. Keep a separate pair of clothes for going out and wash them as soon as you get back. Take a bath as soon as you reach home after meeting friends or family.
9. Sharing is not caring during the pandemic. No personal items should be shared amongst family and friends, not even food. When meeting friends, avoid eating at their houses or anywhere outside as you may not know who can be a carrier in the case of asymptomatic patients.
10 Keep the number of visitors to a minimum.
11. Carry a minimum amount of belongings to someone else’s place and leave them (keys or bag) outside their house
12. Socialise, but not with everyone. Avoid visiting relatives and friends with children below the age of 10, pregnant women, citizens above 60 years of age, and people with comorbidities.
Coronavirus is changing the way we function but making just a couple of changes won’t just keep you safe but also all those around you.