Saturday 5 December, 2020

Elderly, diabetic and hypertensive among high-risk groups for COVID-19

Trinidad and Tobago has joined the more than 112 countries that have confirmed at least one case of the novel coronavirus declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Thursday.

COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by a new virus that had not been previously identified in humans. The disease which broke out in Wuhan City, China on December 31, 2019, causes respiratory illnesses with symptoms such as a cough, fever and in more severe cases, pneumonia.

The rapid spread of the virus has raised a global alarm. However, it must be noted that most people who contract the COVID-19 survive. According to the World Health Organisation, the global mortality rate is 3.4 percent.

Still, there are some people who ought to take extra precautions to prevent becoming infected:

The elderly: Older people, especially those over the age of 60, are at higher risk of mortality as the age-related weakening of their immune system often leads to sepsis or blood clotting problems. That's according to data collected by the WHO. The highest death rate is in people above the age of 80 with 15 percent of people in that age group dying from the disease in one set of Chinese patients. As such, the international Centres for Disease Control (CDC) advises that this group avoids crowds and stocks up on medications. Caregivers are also urged to monitor their loved ones' food and other supplies (oxygen, dialysis, wound care) and create a backup plan. 

Children: Although children don't appear to get sick many can be carriers of the illness and must be properly monitored especially around vulnerable groups. No young children have died in China since the outbreak with the toll less than one percent. 

People with chronic illnesses: People who suffer from illnesses that weaken their immune system like cancer, diabetes, lung disease and kidney disease are more susceptible to severe cases of the COVID-19. Around nine percent of people with diabetes who contracted the virus died, as did around eight percent of people with high blood pressure. 

According to the CDC, it’s important to be prepared for the COVID-19 by ensuring the following:

- Have supplies on hand

- Contact your healthcare provider to ask about obtaining extra necessary medications to have on hand in case there is an outbreak of COVID-19 in your community and you need to stay home for a prolonged period of time

- Be sure you have over-the-counter medicines and medical supplies (tissues, etc) to treat fever and other symptoms. Most people will be able to recover from COVID-19 at home

- Have enough household items and groceries on hand so that you will be prepared to stay at home for a period of time

Take everyday precautions

- Avoid close contact with people who are sick

- Clean your hands often by washing often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing, or having been in a public place

- If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol

- To the extent possible, avoid touching high-touch surfaces in public places – elevator buttons, door handles, handrails, handshaking with people, etc. Use a tissue or your sleeve to cover your hand or finger if you must touch something

- Wash your hands after touching surfaces in public places

- Avoid touching your face, nose, eyes, etc

- Clean and disinfect your home to remove germs: practice routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces (for example tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, toilets, faucets, sinks & cell phones)

- Avoid crowds, especially in poorly ventilated spaces. Your risk of exposure to respiratory viruses like COVID-19 may increase in crowded, closed-in settings with little air circulation if there are people in the crowd who are sick

- Avoid all non-essential travel including plane trips, and especially avoid embarking on cruise ships

If COVID-19 is spreading in your community, take extra measures to put distance between yourself and other people to further reduce your risk of being exposed to this new virus.



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