Health

Here's how you can break the Covid-19 chain of infection

Prevent a sharp rise in Covid-19 infections by targeting these six links in the spread of the virus

As restrictions are being cautiously lifted and eased in the coming weeks, it is more important than ever to prevent a sharp rise in infections of Covid-19 within the community.

The virus spreads from person to person through a common series of events called the chain of infection.

Break the chain and protect yourself and loved ones by targeting these six points or links.

1. Infectious agent

In other words, the germ causing the illness. In the case of Covid-19, it is the Sars-CoV-2 virus. Targeting this link requires early diagnosis and treatment.

2. Reservoir

This refers to where the virus multiplies, the infected person who carries the virus. Targeting this link also requires early diagnosis and treatment of patients with Covid-19.

By now, we should all be familiar with the symptoms, such as cough, fever, runny nose, sore throat, loss of taste or smell, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, body ache and shortness of breath.

If you exhibit these symptoms, you should see a doctor immediately.

This is particularly important if you have had any contact with confirmed Covid-19 patients.

Your doctor will assess if there is a need for you to be tested for Covid-19 based on your age, health condition and travel or contact history.


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3. Portal of exit

This refers to how the virus leaves the reservoir (infected person), through expelled respiratory droplets when the person coughs, sneezes, speaks or sings.

It is important to cough or sneeze into a tissue paper and discard used tissues immediately.

If you have to leave your home for urgent matters (to seek medical attention or do essential work), please do so alone and wear a mask that closely and completely covers the nose and mouth. If you are taking buses and trains, refrain from talking on the phone or to one another to avoid spreading droplets in an enclosed space.

4. Mode of transmission

The virus is transmitted through respiratory droplets or contact with infected surfaces.

To target this link, we should wipe areas which are frequently touched (door handles, light switches, countertops, phones, desks, toilets, sinks) with household cleaners that are appropriate for the surface regularly and allow them to air dry.

For electronic devices like laptops, remote controls and phones, follow the manufacturer's instructions for all cleaning and disinfection products.

Consider the use of wipeable covers for electronics, and the use of alcohol-based wipes or sprays containing at least 70 per cent alcohol.

Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser.

5. Portal of entry

This refers to how the virus enters a new host, through the airway and mucous membranes like in eyes, nose and mouth.

It is essential to avoid touching your face, practice good hand hygiene and wear your mask whenever you go out.

Safe distancing is the action taken by the Government to limit the spread of Covid-19. You should limit any outdoor non-essential activities. If you have to leave your home, do so on your own and not in groups or as a household.

If you have to go outdoors, wear your mask and maintain a safe distance of 1m from the nearest person.

If you are invited to go to places with a gathering of people, you should decline. You are strongly encouraged to exercise at home.

But if you are exercising outdoors, wear your mask when not engaging in strenuous exercise and keep your distance (5m when walking, 10m when running, 20m when cycling).

6. Susceptible host

For Covid-19, anyone is susceptible, including those who are otherwise healthy.

But among the most vulnerable groups are the elderly, especially those who have weakened immune systems and/or chronic diseases.

To target this link, we should respect the current social distancing measures.

Up to two members from your household can visit your parents or grandparents in another household once a day, while taking the necessary safe distancing precautions.

The writer is a member of the Infection Control and Infectious Diseases Workgroup at SingHealth Polyclinics.

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