Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Written on 18 March 2020 : We had restricted our movements from home since early March 2020 due to apprehensions regarding the spread of Covid-19, and starting 15 March 2020 we have gone into strict home quarantine. On the basis of global trends, I think that this is entering a very contagious phase and maximum possible isolation will give our families the best chance. I have written a short note below for my extended family & close friends, to share what I’m actually doing in this situation and hope that we will all benefit from each of our initiatives.

 Based on the quote “Anything you do before a pandemic is seen as alarmist and anything that you do afterwards is seen as inadequate”, I would rather over-react and appear foolish, then under-react and be sorry.

1. Avoid : Your face is sacred

The virus mainly enters from your face – the nose, mouth & eyes. Getting it directly means you have to be sneezed at, and within 10 feet. Stay away from crowds and keep distance from another person. The indirect way is that you touch a contaminated surface with your hands and then the hands touch your face.

Our Actions: Home quarantine

  • Isolation : Staying away from people who can directly spread or carry, and from surfaces that can be contaminated.
    • Family : no one goes in or out.
    • Full time Staff : We moved our resident staff’s wife and 2 sons into the house in early March 2020, and they are subject to the same restrictions & hygiene as the rest of the family.
    • Part-time Staff : Our driver has been asked to stay at his home and be available only for an emergency. Keeping in mind the potential risk to senior citizens and therefore to minimize exposure to them, we have temporarily discontinued the services of our cleaner (with pay) although he was being vetted daily for temperature & hygiene at the entrance – we are cleaning ourselves & with in-house resources.
  • Exercise : till 18th March, we were walking in our condominium, keeping safe distance from other residents. However, we have stopped going for walks till there is clarity that other residents who have undertaken international travel / international students returning home are taking adequate precautions. Until then we will make do with walks in the balcony.
  • Food & Beverage : we have planned for a 2 month lock-down
    • Medicines : we have purchased essential medicines, compiled for common symptoms with the help of our doctor friends. Please note that Ibuprofen or Combiflam are contra-indicated (not to be used) for Covid-19.
    • Food : All essential supplies have been purchased. We avoided going to large stores and bought from a small neighborhood store with low traffic, and we wore disposable plastic gloves while going through the shelves.
    • Deliveries : buying upfront was to avoid home deliveries unless urgent – the delivery boys are said to be the ones who will spread this the most.
    • Package quarantine : it is said that the virus does not stay on inanimate objects for more than 2-3 days, so we bring in the delivery packages wearing disposable gloves and store them in a sunny corner of the balcony for 2-3 days before touching them.
    • Fresh vegetables & fruits : till the time they are available, we are getting them but taking special care for those that are consumed raw (salads, fruits, juicing). We wash them in mild detergent and then ozonate them in the balcony (using Kent fruit & vegetable cleaner), then dry it in the balcony before storing it in the kitchen. This is done as soon as it enters the house, not when its consumed.
    • Water : we have replaced the RO filters today so it has at least a 6 month life going forward.
  • Disinfection : once a day, we are using Lizol / Diversey R2 solution to wipe all the floors and all horizontal surfaces … kitchen 2 times at least before each meal. Decluttering our desks, toilet vanities, kitchen counters, etc so quick swipes can be done.
    • Shoes : At the entrance we are taking off our shoes and wearing separate socks / shoes for internal use.
    • Door handles, lift buttons, mobile phones, watches, computer keyboards, iPads are swiped once a day with disinfection wipes (Clorox, Gif) or a soapy solution & cloth. Car door handles & steering disinfection, in case you need to use it in an emergency
  • Flu-shots (FluQuadri) : We got these on 16 March 2020 since we were not inoculated. This may not prevent Covid-19 but it will prevent 4 variants of cold, flu & swine flu – it will be very difficult to judge whether its normal flu symptoms or Covid-19 and the confusion could lead to misery and unnecessary doctor visits. It will take 10 days to be effective after injection.  
  • Gloves, masks & sanitizers : We have bought the very thin disposable gloves that are used in food service and we wore them when we went out to shop (and for a hospital visit), and disposed them outside the venue by turning them inside out. They may be worn during cleaning. Masks are neither available nor effective unless you have to stop spread after being infected. We managed to get a couple of bottles of sanitisers, but soap & water is more effective at home.

2. Assume : you have been contaminated

  • Handwash : wash like a germophobic, at least 4-6 times a day with soap on for a minimum of 20 seconds (I do 30-45 s), after cleaning, before meals, taking off gloves, handling couriers, etc etc.
  • Nails : Cut nails to Zero level – it will fail the handwash protocol
  • Facewash : with soap on for a minimum of 20 seconds
  • Eyewash : with plain water
  • Bathing : Daily, with soap on for 60 seconds

Covid-19 affects the respiratory system, and any virus generally enters via the nose and lodges into the sinus cavity and multiplies in the mucus till it is able to overpower the immune system and then move down to the lower airways & lungs (and it gets us to sneeze, which helps it spread). Therefore, I do the following:

  • Jal Neti : In the morning, using a Jal Neti pot, body temperature clean filtered water with a pinch of salt is passed via one nostril and comes out via the other, removing the mucus thereby diluting / removing the contaminants from our sinuses, and hopefully any virus will not be able to get to a density where it can overpower our immune system. Draining afterwards is very important. It may take a few days to get used to, but afterwards it’s as easy as brushing your teeth. Please Google to learn how to do it. Jal Neti pots are available online, at Patanjali, Naturopathy shops, etc. Use clean household salt or buy medical grade isotonic salt online.
  • Gargles with salt & hot water : After cleaning the nasal cavity via Jal Neti, gargles to dilute / remove germs from the throat (to clear remnants of mucus from the sinus). This can be repeated in the evening, or whenever there is discomfort in the throat.
  • Steam : Steam for 20 minutes (steam bath or inhalation) is a good way to clear the lungs and lower airways and help getting the sputum out.

3. Monitor the family health:

Based on inputs from the doctor that attended the first case of Covid-19 in the US, as shown on CNN today (18 March 2020), we are monitoring / charting the following parameters of the family twice daily. According to the doctor, many will just have normal flu symptoms which can be home treated as usual. 80% of those that have Covid-19 will not have a life threatening condition and can be managed at home just like regular flu, without needing a hospital visit (which risks infection & impacts doctor’s time for serious cases). Those that display clear symptoms of Covid-19 (and a fall in blood oxygen) may teleconference a doctor with the following statistics and then proceed as advised.

  • Blood Oxygen (SPO2) : Using a readily available (Rs 1,000 approx) SPO2, the readings should be monitored. According to the doctor, since it is a respiratory disease, a significant fall in blood oxygen will give the first signs of respiratory impairment.
  • Temperature : a key indicator
  • Blood Pressure & Sugar : only family members who are prone to these conditions, since Covid-19 may impact such people more.

4. Diet & Immunity :

  • We are following a largely vegetarian diet, with orange juice (vitamin C)  & seasonal fruits for breakfast
  • Usual multi-vitamins (Centrum / Meganeuron OD)
  • Chaywanprash
  • Keeping the throat moist – A warm honey lemon tulsi drink, twice a day. Tea, etc. Kanth Sudharak Vati (ayurvedic throat lozenges) have helped. Post meals we have a concoction of soaked basil seed (sabza) with kachchi haldi and a dash of lemon.
  • Deep breathing (Pranayam) improves oxygen levels, lung function and is also said to improve immunity.
  • Friends are asking me to start on homeopathy, and I have bought the medicines but not yet started since I have not be able to confirm the veracity of the treatment yet..

This is a critical time when the interests of ME and WE converge. Lets stay safe together.

Disclaimer : The above is meant to inform only my extended family & friends about what I’m doing in these circumstances, based on my personal assessment as on 18 March 2020 (I will try to update as and when required, and add more details if I find that it is helping). This is not based on doctors’ advice and I’m no expert. We have not travelled overseas or on a plane for the last 90 days.