Consultant Physician Dr Joel Teelucksingh recommends that all frontline workers are equipped with high-quality or high filtration masks, especially now, as cases and deaths continue to increase.
In the last two weeks, two police officers – Acting Inspector Mukesh Sookram and Constable Anthony Nicholson – died from COVID-19.
“This is something that we may do immediately as a nation to reduce and cut the transmission of this novel virus, it’s not enough to tell frontline workers to use any mask or face covering. It may be enough for the law but it’s not going to be enough to reduce transmission… particularly as we have very transmissible variants,” he explained.
Dr Teelsucksingh said along with the proper protection and the following of health protocols such as hand sanitizing, these workers should also avoid the three C’s – closed spaces, crowded places, and close-contact settings.
“So let’s say a staff room and so forth,” he said.
He added that even with these safety measures anyone can still contract the virus and take it home to their loved ones, especially essential workers but not necessarily in the way you think.
“One would recommend if you think you’re exposed that you shower to reduce the risk of particles being on your body but that mode of transmission is not a major way at which persons acquire the COVID-19 infection…It is more likely in cough, sneezes, via the eyes, nose, and mouth,” he explained.
Because transmission of the virus from surfaces is low, those who need to go out to access essential services do not have to take any additional health measures other than the ones already recommended. Such as social distancing, sanitizing, and mask-wearing. But according to Dt Teelucksingh, mask-wearing is the most important thing.
“There is no need to necessarily be am washing grocery items unless you feel comfortable to do so…When you go in a grocery is to ensure that your mask is properly worn, a high-quality mask or double masking, a surgical and a cloth mask rather than a basic face covering,” he said.
And while the goal is to avoid COVID-19 from entering the household, some people have no choice as they are asked to self-quarantine at home.
Dr Teelucksingh said ideally those people should be in a separate room, using a separate washroom and utensils but admits that this is not always possible.
“It reflects one of the grim social inequities that has been exposed since the global epidemic. Those individuals who unfortunately have frontline workers in their house or persons who have been exposed may find it difficult to be isolated from the rest of the household especially if they live poorer, lower socially economic bracket,” he said.
During the quarantine of the patient, nonexposed family members can consider staying by other family members.
One single mother told us that when she contracted COVID-19 in September last yea, there was no one to help with her young two boys.
She said she isolated herself in her room and depended on friends to run errands, but those two weeks were challenging.