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(NAN) When on Dec. 31, 2019, the World Health Organisation (WHO)
informed of a cluster of cases of pneumonia of unknown cause detected in
Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China, not many knew the extent of the
devastating impact it would eventually have on the world.COVID-19, as it was eventually called, was declared a global pandemic on March 11, 2020.As at April 16, 2020, COVID-19 is presently in 213 countries and
territories of the world, with 1,954,724 confirmed cases and 126,140
confirmed deaths, according to the WHO.“The current evidence indicates that COVID-19 virus is transmitted
through respiratory droplets or contact and contact transmission occurs
when contaminated hands touch the mucosa of the mouth, nose or eyes.“The virus can also be transferred from one surface to another by
contaminated hands, which facilitates indirect contact transmission.“Consequently, hand hygiene is extremely important to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.“It also interrupts transmission of other viruses and bacteria
causing common colds, flu and pneumonia, thus reducing the general
burden of disease,’’ the WHO said.Lending a voice to that, Prof. Oyewale Tomori, during a Zoom meeting
on “COVID-19: Reporting the Science, the Hysteria and Risk of Emerging
Infectious Diseases’’, organised by the Development Communications
(DevComs) Network, elucidated the importance of handwashing with soap.Tomori, a Nigerian Professor of Virology and Former President,
Nigeria Academy of Science (NAS), explained that because of the mixture
of the soap which attracts dirt, the tails of the soap molecules are
repelled by water and attracted to oils, which attract the dirt.“The dirt which contains the virus is washed off
and dissolves in the water and that is the reason why you need soap to
wash your hands.“Ordinary water would not do that effectively, hence the advice to use soap to wash hands.’’On the use of Alcohol-based hand sanitiser, Tomori said that the
COVID-19 virus has an envelope, a lipid envelope and lipid means oily.“Alcohol dissolves lipid and that’s why the sanitiser should contain
at least 60 per cent of alcohol so that you can use it to dissolve the
virus.“In the process,  what you are doing is that  you are inactivating
the virus by putting alcohol, it removes the virus, exposes it, and once
it exposes, it cannot attack,’’ he said.For facemasks, the virologist said that there were still current debates on whether masks should be worn or not.“However, ideally a person who is sick should wear mask but there are
different kinds of masks; the N-95 is a very good mask, so that when a
man coughs into it, the mask would retain the virus and it doesn’t come
out.“Then, particularly for health workers who move closely to patients,
they also need masks to prevent them from getting the virus and outside
within a large group of people.“It may also be necessary to wear masks, especially as some people
can be COVID-19 positive, without showing the symptoms and they may be
sharing the virus.“So, when you are in a large group of people you are safer if you
have your mask on. That will prevent you from inhaling the virus.’’Tomori also explained that social distancing practice is advisable
based on the fact that cough particles, droplets in coughs and sneezes
 can go up to a metre or a little more than a metre.“That is why distance should be spaced because if an infected  person
coughs or sneezes, it won’t get to you if you are not close by, it will
drop to the ground and you are protected.“And also avoiding what is called touching your eyes, nose and mouth
is important. The virus enters through the nose, eyes and  mouth; so
when your hand is contaminated and you use it to touch your eyes, mouth
or nose, one gets it.“When a  person who has the disease coughs and the droplets land on a
table, container, glass, mouse, computer or anything and someone
touches it and it touches the eyes, nose or mouth, chances of getting
COVID-19 are high,’’ Tomori said.The virologist advised people to practice respiratory hygiene,
especially by using handkerchief to cover the mouth even when you are
not sneezing.Also, Prof. Osagie Ehanire, during a briefing by the Presidential
Task Force on COVID-19 said the purpose of the mask is to shield one as
well as the person opposite.“This is because if anyone is emitting any kind of droplets or
particles through coughing or sneezing, they push out particles and
droplets which can travel a certain distance and be able to infect
somebody who is less than two meters away.“That’s why we talk about social distancing.“That kind of emission also takes place when people are shouting ,
when they laugh or when they exclaim or even when they sigh or  blow the
nose.“So, these emissions, you can capture if you’re wearing a protective
barrier, it can even be a scarf you put across your mouth, so that you
do not run the risk of being able to share it to someone else or you
easily getting it.’’The health minister, however, said that if one decides to use a face
mask, which is not compulsory, it  doesn’t have to be hospital, medical
 or surgical grade mask.“You can make your own and preferably, your mask can be washable, so
you can wash it, preferably with warm water and iron it and re-use.“We are making that recommendation and also particularly stretching
it to those who handle food, food vendors are particularly advised to do
that in the interests of their customers.’’ Ehanire said. (NAN) Posted by Suleiman IdrisSuleiman idris is a graduate of Fed Univ of Tech Minna (BTECH Mathematics/Comp Science), Specialist in ICT Support Services. also proficient in use of online journalism tools & Social media management. I currently serve as I.T Officer with Africa’s Largest TV Network NTA

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