By Wilma Bedford
Just when we thought Covid-19 had been brought under control, the government confirmed that a mutated strain of the virus, known as SARS-CoV-2 and also as 501.v2 variant, appeared. For those who aren’t indifferent, the questions “What now, what to do?” arose anew.
One of the worrisome issues to be addressed, is the efficacy of the vaccine. There is a concern that the virus could evolve and become resistant to the vaccine, but various virologists are of the opinion that it will take years – not months – and manifold mutations of the virus before the current vaccine becomes worthless.
Be informed about the new vaccine, the terminologies surrounding it and separate the truth from the fake news.
To return to normal a vaccine is the only solution to the pandemic, provided 70-75% of the population are vaccinated.
How do you protect yourself and your family?
- Maintain the non-pharmaceutical intervention Covid-19-protocol. Wear a mask in public, keep your social distance, avoid large gatherings and practise hand hygiene. Your mask protects you and the other person with whom you are having a conversation by diminishing the spreading of pathogens. Ensure that your mask covers your nose as well as your mouth and reaches to beneath your chin. Masks will be with us for a long time to come, so get a good mask, preferably consisting of a double layer of material. Be aware that medical and N95 masks don’t block out pathogens totally. Take responsibility for your own health and that of your family, and indirectly also that of the health workers and medical practitioners. Not all medical facilities are adequately equipped to treat Covid-19 patients or there won’t be/isn’t sufficient hospitalisation available, and nursing staff and medical practitioners also fall ill. Get yourself a finger oximeter that measures your blood-oxygen level; when your level falls to 93 or less, it is advisable to obtain medical assistance.
- Keep an eye on the numbers. When 5% or fewer in a community test positive for two weeks, chances are slim that you will come into contact with an infected person. The higher the positive figure, the more viruses are circulating and it is an indication that you have to apply stricter preventative measures. Avoid the shops, have your groceries delivered, meet friends somewhere in the open air, keep a distance of two metres between you and people outside your household, postpone appointments with your hairdresser and beauty salon and wear your mask.
- Draw the social protective net tighter around you and your family. If someone in your family falls ill, most probably they were infected by someone within the family or someone you know; you are infected through close contact with someone in a confined space. The fact that you know someone outside your circle does not ensure that they aren’t infected. Close contact is defined as contact from face to face with an infected person for more than 15 minutes over a period of one week. For example, if you had contact with an infected person three times for five minutes over a seven-day period, you are considered to be close contact. The same goes for when you shared a confined space with a confirmed or possible case for more than two hours. This contact period is counted from 48 hours before the person shows symptoms. If you spend time indoors with family and friends who do not live with you, wear your mask. For the sake of socialising, you may allow two or three families inside your framework, but remember that in actual fact you have contact with many other persons. Seal the leakages by talking to each person honestly about how they are protecting themselves and others and to divulge where and with whom they socialise.
- Socialise outside. Visiting in a confined space, such as at a party, in a church or restaurant, you can still be infected by the person sitting opposite you if you are breathing the same air. Based on contact detection information, it would seem that indoors activities should be restricted to 30 minutes to offer a certain amount of safety. Keep your guest list short and ensure that your venue and your guests comply with the restrictions as required and stipulated by law.
5. Change your weekend and holiday plans and if you have to travel across the border, take a test before you leave that will determine your Covid status, especially if you are going to visit vulnerable friends or family. Also be aware that you can become infected after your test by contact with, for example, other passengers.
- If you suspect that you have been infected, have yourself tested, inform your loved ones and people you have been in contact with and isolate yourself until your results come. If you test positive, be especially vigilant between days five to 10, as respiratory problems will manifest then, which will require intervention.
Effectiveness of Face Masks in Preventing Airborne Transmission of SARS-CoV-2
Hiroshi Ueki. American Society for Microbiology
Hang in there, help is on the way
Tara Parker-Pope. Dec 18,2020. New York Times
Covid-19: Second wave spreads new virus strain in SA; hits younger people hard – Govt Q&A
20th December 2020 by Melani Nathan BizNews https://www.biznews.com/global-citizen/2020/12/20/covid-19-new-strain-in-sa
The Coronavirus Is Mutating. What Does That Mean for Us?
Apoorva Mandavilli Dec. 20, 2020 New York Times https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/20/health/coronavirus-britain-variant