COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by the recently discovered coronavirus. The COVID-19 virus spreads primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The virus enters the body via nose, mouth and eyes. Some recent studies suggest that virus may be airborne and can be spread through fine infected droplets that remain suspended in the air in closed air-conditioned environments of offices, AC cabs-buses, shopping malls and theatres due to absence of cross-ventilation, even when you are not in direct contact with an infected person. A patient and survivor have several questions in their mind. Here are a few answered:
What do I do if my symptoms persist?
Recovery period is different from person to person. Don't worry, take advice from your consultant for further treatment and follow-up.
When is it safe for me to end isolation?
Talk to your doctor. In general, you can resume contact with other people after: • You have had three days without fever • It has been at least 17 days since you first experienced symptoms • Your symptoms are improving. If you have a suppressed immune system or other special conditions, your doctor may recommend a longer period of isolation and/or further testing.
When can I resume my office duty?
You can resume your work routine after: • At least 17 days since you first experienced symptoms • You have recovered from symptoms and regained energy levels
I was not tested again after the first COVID positive test – do I need to worry that I may still be positive and infect others?
Someone who has completed quarantine or has been released from isolation is not in the infective period and does not pose a risk of infection to other people and does not need to be tested again.
Can I get re-infected with COVID-19?
Most people who are infected with the COVID-19 virus, whether or not they have symptoms, produce antibodies (proteins that fight infections) and fighter cells. For those recovered, the chances of reinfection appear to be very low in the first three months after the initial infection. And it’s possible that even after that, the low levels of antibodies may be able to protect against reinfection.
Can people without symptoms transmit the virus?
Yes, infected people can transmit the virus even when they don't have symptoms. This is why it is important that all people who are infected are identified by testing, isolated, and, depending on the severity of their disease, receive medical care. These measures break the chain of transmission.
Can I get COVID infection without ever being in close contact of a COVID positive person?
Yes, you can. Recent studies indicate that COVID can spread through tiny droplets that remain suspended in the air for long. In closed spaces with inadequate ventilation, a COVID positive person can leave such tiny droplets hanging in the air which can be circulated by the air-conditioning systems. Hence, wearing a mask at all times is important.
How can we use air conditioning safely at home?
• A temperature between 24-300C should be maintained while operating ACs at home. • While, a relative humidity level of 40% to 70% is considered to be the most suitable as it decreases problems from pathogens. • Recirculation of cool air by room air conditioners, must be accompanied by outdoor air intake through slightly open windows and exhaust by natural exfiltration. • Centralized air conditioning should be avoided if infected and non infected persons live in the same house. Individual air conditioning units should be used in separate rooms.
Can we use room coolers (evaporative coolers):
• Yes, you can. Evaporative coolers must draw air from outside to ensure good ventilation. • Evaporative cooler tanks must be kept clean and disinfected and the water drained and refilled frequently. • Windows must be kept open to release humid air. • Portable evaporative coolers that do not draw outdoor air are not recommended, since their cooling reduces with humidity rising inside the space.
References: • Ministry of Health & Family Welfare Guidelines • WHO guidebook for Support for Rehabilitation Self-Management after COVID19- Related Illness • US- Centre for disease Control (CDC)