Starting to go out during COVID-19?
Here's some expert tips to help you plan..
I hope you are safe and well. With many of us being confined to our homes for the last 3 months, we haven’t needed to think and plan too much about what we should do once lockdowns ease. But as societies begin slowly opening-up, how should we plan to venture beyond our homes? From visiting friends or family, attending events or starting to do normal activities again, how should we assess the risk?
To help you, Professor William Petri, an immunologist from the University of Virgina shares his owns thoughts here. Note that he lives in the US state of Virginia (with hundreds of new cases per day), so his plan might be very different to someone in New Zealand for example (who have virtually no new cases currently).
As an immunologist what’s your plan in venturing out of the home?
As we return to some degree of normalcy after weeks of social distancing, we all need a plan. As an immunologist, I’ve given this a lot of thought personally and professionally.
Professor Petri offers up 5 steps:
Check the number of new COVID-19 infections locally
When I venture out, I am first going to check the number of new COVID-19 infections in my community. In Virginia, for example, some health districts had 200 new daily cases and others fewer than 10. I am going to be less risk-averse when new cases fall to near zero.
Judge the risk of severe infection of me and the people I visit
Second, I will assess my risk for severe infection and the risk for severe infection for those I will be visiting. The CDC defines these risk factors as being over age 65 or having serious underlying medical conditions, which include chronic lung disease, moderate to severe asthma, serious heart conditions, immunocompromise, severe obesity (body mass index over 40), diabetes, kidney disease requiring dialysis, liver disease or living in a nursing home or long-term care facility. If I have one of these risk factors, or am visiting someone with one of these risk factors, I am going to be extra-cautious.
Use knowledge of how the virus is transmitted and take precautions
Third, I will draw from knowledge about how COVID-19 is transmitted. Airborne transmission and fomites, or contaminated surfaces such as doorknobs, are both means of infection. The SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 is stable in airborne droplets, or aerosols, for hours and on the surface of cardboard for a day and plastics for two days. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine, for example, showed that half of nursing home patients who had COVID-19 were without symptoms at the time of diagnosis, by nasal swab PCR test for the virus, and yet infectious to others. Normal speech generates oral fluid droplets which are potentially infectious but are captured by a cloth face mask, preventing transmission to others.
Wear a mask and try to stay outdoors
I am going to wear a mask to help prevent my giving the infection to others, avoid touching surfaces such as handrails, try not to touch my eyes or nose or mouth with my hands and wash my hands frequently.
I am also going to try to stay outdoors, where the risk of infection from aerosols is less, and if indoors stay six feet distant from others and limit my time there.
If you have any symptoms, stay at home
I am going to assess my risk for infecting others. If I have a fever, cough or other flu-like symptoms, such as muscle aches or tiredness, I am not going to venture out and risk exposing others to COVID-19. Even if healthy, I am going to wear a mask when out so that I can protect others if I am unknowingly infected but pre-symptomatic.
While it is tempting to resume normal activities, I have to remember – and I hope you will, too – that my individual behavior affects not only my health, but also yours.
Vitamin supplements are unlikely to help dementia
Vitamin C and E, like all the others, are necessary for your body to function well. There is evidence that diet has an influence on Alzheimer’s as we have investigated before for members. But what about vitamin supplements? Some claim certain vitamins can prevent Alzheimer’s. Is this true?
This week Pablo Izquierdo, Metafact neuroscience editor from University College London has done a deep-dive on this question with added perspective from other neuroscientists.
EXPERT SUMMARY: The link between vitamin supplements and dementia is weak and supplements may have side effects. While researchers get a clearer view on this, keep a healthy diet with lots of fruit and veg. You can read the full consensus summary here.
Last months poll results have ended, with “Vitamin D” getting most votes. “Green Tea” and “Coffee” were also close, so I will put them on the lists for us to do mini-reviews in the coming months.
Next week our COVID-19 review will be published and we are working on our July review on the topic of Anxiety. If you want to ask a question on Anxiety, see our current list of questions first here and click on ‘Want to Know’ to follow the questions you are most interested in. Also, comment below if there is a question you want us to include (members get priority here)…
If there are topics you would like to propose for our next member poll, send me a comment here.
Stay safe and may the facts be with you!
Ben McNeil, Founder of Metafact
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