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Following SOPs, vaccination only protection against Covid: Dr Rakesh Bahl

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Bats for strict enforcement of preventive measures; intensive awareness about virus

Jammu: Dr Rakesh Bahl, senior consultant at the Department of Community Medicine, Government Medical College Jammu Wednesday batted for rigorous education about COVID-19, strict implementation and adherence to Covid-appropriate behaviour to save people and to stop the spread of the deadly virus.

When asked about the sudden surge in cases after a year since India came face to face with the coronavirus pandemic, he said, “We as a society let our guard down and stopped observing Covid preventive measures. If your mask isn’t covering your nose, it is as good as wearing no mask at all. For some time, it was observed that many, not all, were reluctant to wear face mask in the public.”

He pointed out that some people were holding a belief that around 80-85 percent of public never catches Covid infection, and only one percent among the infected eventually die.

It was believed that a pandemic with “such low” fatality rate isn’t worth worrying at all, laments Dr Bahl.

He said, “Even if 10 percent of India’s population catches the virus simultaneously, our health infrastructure would be crippled in no time. Assuming a fatality rate of even one percent would be unfathomable in that case!”

Dr Bahl strongly pitched for adopting Covid-appropriate behaviour and getting vaccination as the only foreseeable way out of the pandemic.

“A combination of two properly fit masks – one homemade fabric mask over one surgical mask is needed for maximum protection. The N95 masks are primarily meant for people at much higher risk of infection like doctors, paramedics; nursing staff and others working in high exposure premises.

“Similarly, other measures like frequent hand wash, hand sanitization, maintaining social distance, avoiding closed spaces, etc., should also be followed to reduce the chance of infection.”

He also warned public against believing any random Covid-related message or instruction coming from unofficial sources.

On asking when a Covid-recovered patient is fit for vaccination, Dr Bahl said that a gap of two to four weeks between recovery and vaccination must be maintained to ensure effectiveness of the vaccine.

Meanwhile, he suggested that all Covid-related queries and doubts can be cleared on the helpline number 0191-2571616. Public can also call Divisional Control Room at 0191-2520982, 2549676, 2674444, 2674115, 2674908.

Responding to the apprehensions of the public regarding health infrastructure, the doctor said, “It is not right to blame any country for lack of hospitals in times of a pandemic. Even the most developed countries have failed due to sudden surge of the virus. As systems sometimes collapse in face of natural calamities, they might do so in the face of a pandemic. At times like these, governments and people should cooperate and help the needy.”

Dr Bahl himself has recently recovered from Covid infection. He said that getting vaccinated well before the infection helped him fight it.

“Initially, I didn’t observe any symptoms in myself at all. I got myself tested since a colleague was found Covid positive,” he informed.

“Immediately after getting reports, I isolated myself for 11 days and returned to job healthy thereafter. It is the vaccine which helped me effortlessly recover from Covid,” claimed the doctor.

For those in isolation, Dr Bahl advised a protein-rich wholesome diet, fruits and exercise. He also advised reducing sugar intake.

Meanwhile, J&K Government has started a live phone-in health programme on ‘Gulistan’ channel which is aired twice daily – from 8:30 am to 9 am and 8:30 pm to 9 pm. The eminent doctors respond to public queries during the programme. Anybody from the public can call on the above-mentioned Divisional Control Room phone numbers and seek information related to Covid treatment, home isolation and other non-Covid health problem.

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