An empty movie theatre in Pune. (Express photo/pawan Khengre)
The Indian Medical Association’s (IMA’s) national task force on coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has issued a list of do’s and don’ts, as well as several other guidelines on stress management, to deal with the current COVID-19 situation across the country.
“India is facing a health emergency. The Indian Medical Association and the doctors of this country have to rise to the occasion. It is our duty to update ourselves on the current situation of COVID-19, the scientific data and principles as well as the best practices,” stated an advisory by IMA national president Dr Rajan Sharma, sent to all IMA state presidents and other office-bearers.
Dr R V Asokan, honorary secretary general of IMA, said several instructions have been issued, including that differential diagnosis of COVID-19 has to be kept in mind while encountering a suspected patient.
Just like any viral infection, COVID-19 will also resolve by itself in majority of the patients, said IMA doctors. As per the advisory, epidemiology of COVID-19, SARS, MERS clearly demonstrate that hospitals act as amplifying centres for the epidemic. This happens due to mixing of patients with different-risk categorisation in busy outpatient areas of designated COVID-19 centres. So, patients with mild symptoms are advised not to come to hospitals for testing and treatment. Testing is not going to change either the clinical course or management of the patient with mild symptoms, IMA doctors have said.
The medical fraternity has also urged people not to refer to those with the disease as ‘COVID-19 cases’, ‘victims’ ‘COVID-19 families’ or the ‘diseased’. They are “people who have COVID-19”, “people who are being treated for COVID- 19”, “people who are recovering from COVID-19”, said Dr Asokan.
The do’s and don’ts include avoid watching, reading or listening to news that makes one feel anxious or distressed, seek information mainly to take practical steps to prepare your plans and protect yourself and loved ones. The sudden and near-constant stream of news reports about an outbreak can cause anyone to feel worried, stated the IMA. Get the facts, gather information at regular intervals from WHO website and local health authorities platforms in order to help you distinguish facts from rumours, it stated.
Health workers are also likely to feel stress at this time. Taking care of basic needs and employing helpful coping strategies — ensuring rest and respite during work or between shifts, eating sufficient and healthy food, engaging in physical activity, and staying in contact with family and friends is suggested, as per the guidelines.