Covid-19 Pandemic: Part 5: Protecting Ourselves and Others: Safety Measures That We All Should Observe

Published on
Thu Jun 09 2022
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Published in February 2022

In this paper we have discussed how almost 1/5th of the population faced the disease and how best we can protect ourselves from the infection. Specific measure of getting vaccinated to general protective measures of isolation, disinfection, social distancing, avoiding crowded places, wearing masks, getting tested for Covid-19 when in doubts. How we individually and collectively can take steps to halt the transmission and protect ourselves and our community is discussed here.

We discussed the historical context of Covid-19 pandemic, followed by the signs, symptoms and how it affects our body, various diagnostic tests, and the virus and its variants. In this month’s edition we discuss general measures to protect ourselves and others around us from the Covid-19 infection.

Growing Covid-19 Pandemic

After two complete years of the pandemic, cumulatively 18% of the US population has faced the Covid-19 disease and continues to show an upward trend even now. Our focus to prevent ourselves from getting the infection or spreading the infection to others needs to be further strengthened than ever before. Let us discuss what best we can do for ourselves and for our family and our community.

1. Get Vaccinated

Of the total 8 vaccines approved by the World Health Organization, three are used in the USA. For the ages of 5 and above vaccines are recommended in the USA. We all should get vaccinated with two doses of the vaccine as early as possible. Some of the groups are recommended for the booster dose after some time and they should get their booster dose too. Next month, we will be devoting full write up on the vaccine types, efficacy, side effects and discuss everything about the vaccine. 

2. Wear the Mask

Masks should be worn by all of us above the age of 2 years, every time when we are around others. This applies even when we are fully vaccinated when we are in an area of substantial or high transmission (Entire Arizona is in a very high transmission area). Masks trap droplet transmission and thus helps in preventing the virus going across either side. Despite virus size being smaller and theoretically pass through the mask pores, blocking droplets help to a great extent the transmission. Mask reduces the risk of secondary infection by 70% among households of those who are infected keeping other conditions alike. 

There are various types of masks: With Omicron virus around, double layer cloth masks or surgical mask or N-95 mask are better options than single layer cloth masks.

Cloth Masks: Cloth Masks can be made from a variety of fabrics and many types of cloth masks are available. However, cloth masks are ineffective if not worn properly and made of a suitable material. Fabrics that block the light when held up to a bright light source are recommended. Double mask gives better protection, especially when used in combination with a surgical, N-95 or KN95 mask. A properly fitting mask is effective with sufficient layers. See the figure. 

Surgical Mask is a loose-fitting, disposable device that creates a physical barrier between the mouth and nose of the wearer and potential contaminants in the immediate environment. These are often referred to as face masks, although not all face masks are regulated as surgical masks. Note that the edges of the mask are not designed to form a seal around the nose and mouth.

N-95 Mask and KN95 Masks: These are five layered masks. 

N95 masks are the ones used by medical professionals who are on the front line of COVID, as they’re especially effective in blocking airborne viruses, filtering out at least 95% of very small particles.

KN95 masks are imported from China and aren’t approved for use in medical settings, since they’re not regulated by U.S. officials. But a well-fitted KN95 is still more effective than a cloth or disposable surgical mask.

Important Points for consideration of Mask Wearing:

  • Make sure your mask fits snugly against your face. Gaps can let air with respiratory droplets leak in and out around the edges of the mask
  • Pick a mask with layers to keep your respiratory droplets in and others’ out. A mask with layers will stop more respiratory droplets getting inside your mask or escaping from your mask if you are sick

3. Stay 6 Feet Away from Others: (Social Distancing/Physical Distancing)

Inside our home 

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Maintain 6 feet distance between the person who is sick and other household members.

Outside our home 

  • Remember that some people without symptoms may be able to spread viruses.
  • Stay at least 6 feet (about 2 arm lengths) from other people, to avoid catching droplet infection from others and also to ensure that our droplets do not reach others. 

4. Avoid Crowds and Poorly Ventilated Spaces

  • Crowded places like gyms, bars, restaurants put us at higher risk of infection. Please avoid them.
  • Avoid indoor spaces that do not offer fresh air from outdoors
  • Open the windows and doors when we are inside the building to bring fresh air 

5. Wash the Hands More Often

  • Wash our hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds every time, especially after we return from a public place, after blowing our nose, coughing or sneezing. It’s important to wash our hands before eating or dealing with food, before touching the face, after using the restroom, after leaving a public place, after blowing out nose, coughing or sneezing, after handing our mask, after caring for others who are sick, and after touching animals or pets, or changing diapers. 

6. Cover Coughs and Sneezes

  • If we are wearing the mask: we can cough into the mask, then put on a new mask as soon as possible after washing our hands with soap and water.
  • If we are not wearing the mask: Always cover our mouth and nose with a tissue when we cough or sneeze or use the inside of our elbow and avoid spitting. We need to wash our hands immediately with soap and water for 20 seconds. If soap and water is not available, we can use 60% or higher levels of alcohol as sanitizer. 

7. Clean and Disinfect:

  • Use disinfectants to disinfect high touch surfaces regularly. This includes tables, light switches, doorknobs, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, sinks and all those surfaces with whom we are in contact frequently. Use the disinfectant as per manufacturer’s guidance. 60% plus alcohol is recommended to ensure effective disinfection. If the surface is dirty visibly, clean them with soap and water first and then disinfect. 

8. Get Tested:

  • We have discussed various types of tests. Getting tested with an RT_PCR or antigen test helps us to know if we are infected. When in doubt with our symptoms, getting tested is important. We can then self-isolate ourselves and prevent spreading further if we are infected. Test kits are now available at many grocery stores and self-test kits can also be used. Government provides 4 test kits free to every household. If the test is positive, we need to self-isolate ourselves. If the test is negative, it is important to repeat the antigen test before being sure that we are not infected. If symptoms aggravate, visiting our physician is important. For ordering free self-test kits, visit

9. Adopt a Healthy Lifestyle to Boost Our Immunity: 

  • Eat nutritious foods, get enough sleep, avoid smoking, staying active, limiting alcohol and avoiding stress. All this will boost our immunity and prevent the possibility of severe infection. 

Coming Up

Next month, we will discuss various vaccines available in our country, their benefits, efficacy, side effects and how to avail the vaccine within your area.

We Act Together

Don't wait. Let's act today to protect our families and community from Covid