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March 26, 2020

Practical precautions, but what about the underprivileged

Islamabad

March 26, 2020

With many people staying at home because of the coronavirus, there are myriads of messages on social media platforms, not only about the virus but on many other subjects, which is fine. What is not fine though is how wrong information as well as advice is forwarded -- which I have been somewhat guilty of sometimes - that does more harm than good. And, of-course, there are hundreds of want to be ‘doctors’ and ‘experts’ who give advice, much of it conflicting or confusing and should be ignored.

Following WHO and Unicef guidelines is a good idea but for a country like ours some of these are quite impractical from a doable point of view, since there is a large part of the population who cannot follow them for various reasons. For the underprivileged section of our society it is nearly impossible and it is they who have to be provided all the facilities the government can provide, though it will be adaunting task. The big question is, how can those people who cannot even get clean water to drink – according to various reports - follow these guidelines and wash their hands multiple times a day?

While everyone agrees that washing hands for twenty seconds is the best defence against the virus, yet those who stress about handwashing while giving this message, no one stresses the point that it’s no use washing your hands thoroughly if you are going to put off the tap which you opened before washing your hands, without sterilizing it as well. Then there are door handles and knobs which have probably been opened before hands were washed. Have they been sterilized? It’s certain most persons who are not familiar with the way germs are carried, will not even think about it, let alone carry out the practice. Even if they are educated on the subject, not everyone will remember. The fact is that you can open a door with your elbow but you cannot turn a knob or a handle with it and it has to be done by hand.

Then there is the question of changing clothes as soon as you come home after stepping out for essentials like medicine or groceries, if there is even a remote chance that you have been contaminated –after all a majority of the population is not familiar with, or has access to, online shopping and will go out to buy essential items. While some people maybe able to follow guidelines on this aspect of prevention, the majority will not be able to carry them out for various reasons – not being able to afford doing so being the main one, especially the low income or the underprivileged section of our society. It does make you think!