Corona cannot infect disciplined and healthy lifestyle: Dr. Rabindra Samir

Dr. Rabindra Samir

Public Health Expert

From the past few months, the world is terrorized by Corona Virus (Covid-19). There were 308,615 victims of Corona till 8pm of 22 March 2020 among which 13,071 had died. A lot of precautions were taken to control the infection of Corona in Nepal. In the same context, editor of inseconline had a conversation with Public Health Expert Dr. Rabindra Samir.

Corona turned out to be a pandemic. What makes it scary?

In the past, world was a bigger place. News of diseases spread in one country or continent did not reach another country. Media has made the world a global village because of which everyone is informed about Corona. Till date (21 March 202) Corona has not entered our country. So we need not panic but we should be alert. Our northern border Tibet doesn’t have Corona till date. Hence, we have very less chances of Corona entering from the northern borders. In the south we have Uttar Pradesh (UP) and Bihar where the population is extremely high. In total UP and Bihar has total population of 250 Million. Their lifestyle can also help in spreading the infection. Till now even Lucknow has corona victims. We have open border so the risk is high. If Corona isn’t controlled in UP or Bihar then it invites terrifying condition. Our Terai also can’t be controlled. Then it will spread in the hilly and mountain region easily.

Then what should be done?

To control this disease from spreading, not only the borders but every place should be controlled. Armed Police should be mobilized in the forests and fields connecting the border. If we don’t do so then we cannot protect ourselves from this disease. We can protect ourselves only from precautions and pre-exercise. We cannot go for other alternatives. Even till now the international airports are not well equipped and alert. Only few airlines are closed but not all. Flights coming from China, India and Thailand are also at high risk and should be controlled.  (After this interview, the same day –21 March, PM Oli addressed the civilians and closed all the international airlines.) Since Nepal is in the green zone, tourists will definitely visit us. Hence they should be checked properly in the airports. Not just airport but every entering point to Nepal should have proper equipment to check the visitors.  The health workers should decide who to send home, whom to send for quarantine and whom to send for isolation. If done so then we can prevent corona from entering.

It is said that this disease is spread through air, if so why should people be controlled from moving around?

Actually it is an airborne disease. If a person coughs or sneezes, the virus coming out from the infected person’s mouth can reach upto 1- 3 metres. Within this distance, we have furniture or floor. The virus gets onto any surface that it finds. According to previous research, Corona remains in the air for two hours before it dies. Due to this even after a person is done sneezing or coughing, the risk remain for two hours. But the air cannot transport it from one place to another.

What are Government’s efforts to stop Corona?

We are fortunate that Corona came to South Asia quite late. It reached us after China, Europe, America and Australia. They had no time for preparedness because of which there was more loss. The loss was heart-aching. But, we got time to observe the world which taught us about their technology, knowledge and skills. Till date we just have fear of Corona but not the virus. The government has done its best. This may not be enough but till now this has worked. Government’s decision is important and necessary. SEE, schools and colleges, gatherings etc. were postponed and closed. In the long term it will have a good result.

What next?

Government should have enough kits for the diagnosis of Corona. We should learn from the way Korea controlled it. They went to each house hold in Deagu city for Corona test. The fine ones were left at home for resting and the sick ones were taken to the hospital for treatment.  This means that government should import enough testing kits. There is no limit as to how long this pandemic will last. Thus, we have to be prepared. We have to stop all airways and land border entries to Nepal. Under unavoidable circumstances, one should only be allowed to travel after a proper medical checkup. These are the basics. If done so, other process will move simultaneously.

People are becoming paranoid to the term Corona and its infection. Does this virus kill a person immediately after infection?

This is a myth spread all over the world. This is a very important question. People take Corona as Hades (Lord of Death in Greek Mythology). It is not really so. But this is untrue. I will present you with a piece of statistical evidence. If a thousand people are infected with the Corona Virus, 90% will simply show simple symptoms of common cold or flu. Previously, it was 80% but now it is 90%. These infected ones do not need fatal treatment. They should rest in isolation. They will recover by then. Remaining 10% will need the hospital. Out of this 5% are fatal patients who will need ICU or ventilator. Among these chronic patients, the ones with cancer, diabetes, kidney disease, cardiac disease, rheumatic disease; in other words who were terminally ill are prone to death. In general 20-30 out of 1000 die. Even other diseases kill people this way. Cholera or dysentery or fever can kill people in greater number than Corona. People with Corona die due to other diseases in their body. Therefore we must be prepared.

Then what makes it terrifying?

There are two factors behind it- one it spreads fast, another it is a virus. There aren’t many effective anti-viral medicines. There are antiviral diseases but it kills the bacteria. We cannot say that it kills Corona virus. This is the only scary factor. Media is another terrifying factor. Media publishes fake news. I can guarantee that 90% of the news regarding Corona in Nepal is fake. Online news portals keep such fake news to increase their viewers. Even we look for crispy news. Hence, it is the scariest part. We should only trust the information coming from either World Health Organization or Ministry of Health.

So does this mean we should not panic but remain alert and follow health discipline?

There are only two or three ways to remain safe from Corona. First we need to be mentally strong. Even if we are infected with it, we should be prepared with a proper plan. We should be prepared with the plan of hospital where we will got or take our family members. Wearing mask is a ‘Fashion’. Wash your hands frequently. Keep washing your hands once in every hour. It is best to wash our hand properly with soap and water. Corona will not come to your houses searching for you. So, do not go to crowded places searching for Corona. If we avoid groups or crowded places then it will minimize the risk. If everyone is home then the infection is not spread. Problems come- we need to face it and search for solution. Therefore, civilians should cooperate with the decisions of the government. Corona cannot infect disciplined and healthy lifestyle. Thus, we need to be disciplined. Corona is a weak virus so let’s not panic. We can defeat it. Let’s remain motivated.

Interviewed on: 20 March 2020