Covid-19: Be extra cautious as the winter sets in Dr. Don Gregory Mascarenhas, consultant Pulmonologist, lists out the precautions to be taken during the winter

December 22, 2020

Winter is upon us. It might sound like an impending doom, especially in this Covid era. Even as the world is reeling under the Covid-19 pandemic, our country, it must be said, has done reasonably well in controlling the spread of the disease. We have clocked more than nine million cases at the time of writing this, however, our fatality rate is less than 2 percent, way below the world average. We are therefore moving in the right direction of recovery.

But is it a time to loosen the guard, especially with the winter upon us? Winters in India are not as gruesome as they are in Europe, and in southern India it is pretty mild. However, a variety of viral and bacterial infections can threaten the health of people, especially, the vulnerable population. People with diabetes, chronic kidney disease, cardiac disease and chronic lung diseases like bronchial asthma and COPD are more prone to develop these viral and bacterial infections, which could prove detrimental to the health of these individuals. Here the elderly and children are at a higher risk owing to their low immune system.

Influenza viruses thrive especially during the winter season, and can be life threatening. Pneumococcal infections too pose a high risk. Other than these, a variety of other infections, including dengue, can worsen our immune system. Pollution can add to the declining lung function, especially in COPD patients.

Precautions to be taken during the winter

  • Follow the strict Covid-19 guidelines – wear masks, use sanitizers and avoid crowds. This will help us avoid the emergence of a second wave of Covid-19.
  • Maintain strict personal and environmental hygiene to avoid food and water-borne diseases.
  • Avoid refrigerated and sour food items.
  • Take pneumococcal and influenza vaccines, especially the vulnerable population.
  • Bronchial asthma and COPD patients should use inhalers as prescribed.
  • Avoid overuse of antibiotics; use them only when recommended by a doctor.
  • Adequate hydration is necessary.
  • Avoid fumes/dust.

By taking the above measures, we will be able to ward off most of the viral and bacterial infections, and be better health prepared for the new year 2021.

Dr. Don Gregory Mascarenhas, is a visiting Consultant Pulmonologist at Indiana Hospital & Heart Institute, Mangaluru

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