The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has issued a number of guidelines to follow in the wake of coronavirus cases being reported in the country. In the circular issued by the Health Ministry, it said that not all the cases of coronavirus are severe and nature and just a small percentage of those infected with the virus get health complications.

Most of the other cases are mild and cause minor illnesses. The circular, however, emphasized maintaining basic health hygiene practices to avoid catching the infection.

Two Amazon employees tested positive for COVID-19
Healthy persons do not need to wear masks. It doesn't help.CNBC

Use of masks by general public

Due to some misconception and ill-informed advice on usage of masks in containing viruses circulating on social media, people have been seen buying masks in huge numbers. So much so that there has been a shortage of masks in the market even for health workers. The Health Ministry has sought to dispel confusions and misconceptions about wearing masks.

A healthy person who does not have any symptoms of the infection does not need to wear masks. Also, there is no scientific evidence to show the health benefits of using masks for non-sick persons.

In fact, the continuous wearing of disposable masks for longer than 6 hours or repeated use of the same mask may actually increase the risk of infection.

When & who should use medical masks (other than health workers)

  • When a person develops a cough or fever.
  • While visiting a health care facility.
  • When you are caring for an ill person. 
  • Close family contacts of suspect/confirmed cases undergoing home care. 
  • The guidelines clearly mention that healthy persons do not need to wear masks. It doesn't help.

Masks shouldn't be worn continuously for more than 6 hours

In the above-mentioned conditions, it is advisable to wear medical masks but the masks should not be worn continuously for more than 6 hours. Moreover, if it gets wet in-between, it needs to be changed immediately.

Wearing triple layer masks the right way

  • Unfolds the pleats and place it over the nose, mouth, and chin.
  • Fit flexible nose piece over the nose bridge.
  • Secure it with tie string and ensure there are no gaps on either side of the mask
  • While in use, avoid touching the mask.
  • Change the mask as soon as it becomes wet.
  • Disposable masks should never be reused.

Disposing used masks

China virus outbreak
Used masks should be first disinfected and then disposed of.Reuters

All the used masks should be considered infected and should be disposed of. Masks used by patients, caregivers and should be first disinfected using ordinary bleach solution (5%) or sodium hypochlorite solution (1%) and then be disposed of either by burning or deep burial.

Home quarantine

After the recent case of professionals coming from infected countries testing positive for COVID-19 have come to light, measurers to quarantine suspect or confirmed cases have been insisted.

The circular issued by the health ministry said that people, related or unrelated, who came in close contact with a suspect or infected person will be followed by rapid isolation in designated health facilities.

Intervention for home quartine applicable for initial phase in mainly 3 circumstances:

  1. Travel-related cases.
  2. Focal clusters arising from travel-related/unrelated cases where cluster containment strategy is adopted.
  3. Persons coming from COVID-19 affected areas where chances of transmission are evident.