coronavirus.. Image Source: IANS News

New Delhi, April 15: There is a widespread concern among the authorities and general public alike regarding the spurt in Covid-19 cases. Making the scenario worse is the perception that the spike is due to new strains of Covid-19 virus.

Two new strains of SARS-CoV-2, the Covid-19 causing virus have been detected in India. This was disclosed by the Union Health Ministry. These are N440K and E484K.

While making public this discovery, the government made it clear that it was not possible to link the spike in cases to the new variants.

In his press conference, Dr V.K Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog, had said: "The two variants in Maharashtra were also detected in March and July (last year)...there was no effect back then. But to say anything definitive about its correlation to (rise in) cases this time is not possible at present." He added that the variants had been detected in labs of Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomic Consortia (INSACOG).

Making a pertinent observation, Professor Balram Bhargava, the Director-General of Indian Council of Medical Research, (ICMR), pointed out that the new variants have been seen in other countries too and hence can't be labelled as Indian variants of the virus. In fact there are many other variants in the world, including India.

It needs to be understood that the new variants come into being due to the natural process of mutation. Vaccines will help in combating them but it is essential and primary is to take precautions. These are easy to follow and will help in curbing the spread.

New symptoms According to Dr Shuchin Bajaj, Founder and Director, Ujala Cygnus Group of Hospitals, "We are seeing new Covid strain, and some newer symptoms are found in patients like fever, pain in muscles, dry and persistent cough, and loss of smell and taste. In addition to conjunctivitis, sore throat, headache, rashes, upset stomach, and discolouration of fingers and toes." While researchers suggest that new Covid strains may not be very dangerous, it becomes important to keep oneself safe.

Here is a list of precautions to take to reduce risk.

Precautions to be followed strictly

  • No one should leave home without gloves and masks. These should be now accepted as body extensions in the new norm.
  • Gloves and masks used outside need to be replaced regularly.
  • Use masks made of the right type of fabric with layers and which fit well like a tight-fitting surgical mask. In case, one can't access that, then wearing two masks may be more protective. Two masks or masks with layers help in stopping the droplets from getting through.
  • Masks need to be worn properly with seals above the nose and around the chin.
  • Sanitisation of hands is a must. This is vital when one touches the surface be it public transport, like cabs, buses, metros or autos or in local markets or any other place.
  • Never sneeze or cough in the open. Tissues or handkerchiefs may be used. The latter should be washed well after use.
  • On experiencing symptoms like cough, fever, breathlessness, or loss of sense of taste or smell, one must immediately stop attending office and meeting people and get medical advice. Equally important is to inform all those who came in contact with you, to alert them to take steps like isolation and medical help.
  • Protect yourself and your family with barrier protection.
  • Don't indulge in leisurely shopping for necessities and limit onsite shopping. According to Dr. Scott Braunstein, Medical Director, Sollis Health, Los Angeles: "Every minute spent shopping indoors increases your risk. When possible, utilise options such as curbside pickup or delivery service to further reduce your exposure."
  • If possible work from home and in case unavoidable, adhere to socially distancing at work. Also whenever and wherever possible, meetings should be held in the open or virtually.
  • Studies have shown that mouthwashes can help to kill the novel coronavirus in the mouth and keep it from entering your lungs and the rest of the body. Ensure good and proper oral hygiene to be safe.

(This content is being carried under an arrangement with --indianarrative/

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