You can slow down the spread of the virus

For one, slow down on shaking hands. Just say hello from a distance.

By Bikram Vohra

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Published: Tue 25 Feb 2020, 7:45 PM

Last updated: Tue 25 Feb 2020, 9:46 PM

You have heard of a cordon sanitaire. It is a strip or area you sanitise to stop something negative from spreading. In the case of forest fires, they cut down a swathe of trees to create a barren strip so that there is nothing for the fire to burn and it dies out. Yes, some trees are cut but then the greater good is served.
The analogy between the forest fire and the current Covid virus crisis. It takes just one person and one lit cigarette butt to bring down thousands of trees so each one of us can either be the perpetrator through carelessness or part of cordon created to stem the spread. And that one person, like that one cigarette, is already smoldering.
As an individual, what can you do? While wearing masks is sensible and no one stops you from liberally using hand sanitisers there are some other steps you might like to consider.
Here then is the liberty being exercised to share some ideas on holding the line. For one, slow down on shaking hands. Just say hello from a distance. The hand is the most likely part of the human body to pass infection. That is why the emphasis on hand washing. Shaking hands can only hasten the spread. Especially since courtesy less than the six degrees of separation that make us all connected to one another, this virus has now jumped the shores and become global with no favour to any ethnic group. As we have seen you do not have to be from Wuhan in China, you can be anyone from anywhere.
Currency notes is another area that we can now reduce even if it is not possible to stop entirely. Go with plastic or online payments. Every little step is one in the right direction.
Also no harm in being super careful and avoiding touching as much as possible public utilities like trollies, banisters, seats, and mass transit bars and supports as well as doorknobs.
In public toilets add to the hygiene by using tissues to wipe and dry and don't mess up the place, clean it before you go. It all adds up even if you think all this is stating the obvious. it is the obvious that counts in a crisis. It is amazing how many people think it is not their business to clean after them.
Personal conduct does play a role. If you want to sneeze or cough be good enough to do it in your elbow or in a tissue you throw away in the right bins. You might look silly but do it anyhow.
Some folks have the habit of spitting and that is one way of hastening a spread of infection. Stop it.
Then it is people, you and I and uncle Tom Cobbley that have to generate a heightened civic sense. Those who have large numbers of staff and labour forces need to get involved and ensure that the eight in a room syndrome is properly policed and monitored. The camps have to be regularly cleaned by their own residents.
Ignorance still rules despite a hundred alerts and warnings and advisories. It is incumbent on sponsors to do a daily check and ensure that their teams and crews are all safe.
What holds good for blue collars also holds good on white collar offices. There is nothing heroic or dedicated about coming to work with a cold.
There is always that fear of these high density areas being more susceptible and this is where there has to be more private surveillance.
Which brings me to the most important tree in the forest: the need to be honest, with yourself and others around you. If you feel unwell, go to the doctor. If your roommate or colleague or friend is showing symptoms, get him or her off the grid. There is no percentage in protecting each other.
And do not listen to rumours. The government here is doing its utmost to contain the problem and is sharing real time information. Get out of any wrong mindset you might have. You are not being deported or locked up or losing your job. On the contrary you are being saved. If you are found positive for this strain thank goodness the system is prepared to pre-empt the condition in those you were exposed to and mitigate the effect. You are not snitching on a friend, you are helping him be saved.
At this time only 13 people have been found with the virus in the UAE. Perhaps the number will rise and another way we can slow it down is to volunteer for a check up if you know you have been exposed to one these members. You cannot expect the authorities to go hunting for you. Go to them.
Finally, don't listen to social platform rumours and absurd forwards. Stick to the official information. This is a global war and we are all warriors.
-bikram@khaleejtimes.com


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