Guard ‘three doors’ to ward off infection

A MAN was infected with Covid-19 at his workplace. He ended up infecting eight members of his family, resulting in the death of one.

Covid-19 can spread easily among family members because most of us do not wear masks at home. This is one of the reasons behind the soaring number of cases recorded daily nationwide.

When asked, most Covid-19 patients say they followed their workplace’s standard operating procedure (SOP) diligently and claim to have no idea how they still contracted the virus.

The current issues such as soaring number of cases, healthcare system at breaking point and vaccine rollout are all related to when the virus has already entered our body. In fact, we are busy mopping the wet floor instead of finding the running tap and turning it off.

Let’s change our position; let’s focus on how to stop the virus from entering our body.

Imagine that you are the virus and you are waiting to infect a human body. You can do this via three doors (eyes, nose and mouth) and you are waiting for them to be opened.

You wouldn’t be able to infect someone who is wearing a mask. But he is rubbing his eyes with unsanitised hands. There’s your open door.

You landed on his phone, which he never sanitises. The next time he uses it and touches his eyes or nose, you will have a chance to enter his body.

There are so many opportunities at the workplace for the virus to enter the body. Workers may be wearing masks, but these are often removed while having meals. And there you are with three doors widely open and so many people to infect.

During my volunteer work, I have noticed that all Covid-19 patients failed in the “Guard, Protect and Attack” (GPA) strategy. They don’t understand why they were infected even though they strictly followed SOP. They may have done well on “protect” (wearing mask) and “attack” (washing/sanitising hands), but they let down their “guard”.

I’ve asked many people if they sanitise their mobile phones. Surprisingly, most said they never thought of doing this even though they wash their hands frequently.

When I tell them that after washing their hands, they would be touching their phones again and may use the “dirty” hand to rub their eyes or nose, they finally see the path of infection.

I am not saying that everyone should treat every surface they touch as contaminated. But if we touch contaminated surfaces and then rub our eyes or nose, we could expose ourselves to infection.

So please put a “security guard” by the three doors. When hands come near any door, the security guard will “stop and question” what they’ve touched. When you are alerted by your security guard, you will remember to wash your hands before rubbing your nose or eyes.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) and scientific community have been evaluating whether the coronavirus could also spread through aerosols in the absence of aerosol-generating procedures (coughing, sneezing and etc), particularly in indoor settings with poor ventilation.

But when I analysed the profile of infected families, I noticed in many cases that members who were sharing the same room could still remain negative. For example, the wife did not get infected even though her husband tested positive for Covid-19.

Vaccination does offer hope, but please bear in mind that it is not a cure. We should therefore focus on not getting infected.

So, follow SOP by the book and activate the GPA strategy. Stay safe.

ASSOC PROF DR WEN LIN CHAI , Lecturer Universiti Malaya

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