4 March, 2020

, Prevention for elderly

Cases of Novel Corona (COVID-19) continue to rise worldwide with reports of geographical spread and fatalities. Respiratory illness caused by the virus can cause pneumonia and symptoms like fever, cough and breathing difficulties. In severe cases, it can cause severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.  

This advisory is especially for elderly who, according to preliminary estimates, are more susceptible to the illness. The preliminary fatality rate for COVID-19 is around 3% (by comparison, SARS had 9.6% and Avian Flu had 39%).

According to Vineet Menachery, immunologist at University of Texas, elderly are more vulnerable to infections because  one, they are more likely to have other chronic health conditions that make it harder for their bodies to cope with damage caused by a new pathogen, and two, corona viruses encourage older immune systems to kick in with extra inflammation, which can have a cascading effect. For instance, when the virus hits a vital organ like the lungs, the body’s immune system blocks portions of lungs that are most infected. One can still breathe but not with the same capacity. If a person has preexisting conditions which lead to lower capacity to begin with, the infection tends to be more likely to be fatal.


  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol (not gel) based hand sanitizer
  • Avoid shaking hands or close contact with outsiders
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth without washing hands. Use moisturisers and eye drops to prevent itching and reduce the need to touch
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick. If necessary, maintain distance and use face mask. Face mask is recommended for health workers or only people who are infected to prevent further spread.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and throw the tissue in a closed bin. If using a cloth, change frequently. Avoid spitting.
  • Seek medical care right away if you have symptoms of fever, cough and/or difficulty breathing.
  • Avoid non-essential travel and visit to crowded places
  • If you experience symptoms call the national helpline number for corona-virus +91-11-23978046 and email id  ncov2019@gmail.com

It is normal to feel stressed, confused or scared during a crisis. Talking to people you trust, like friends and family, will help. Maintain a healthy lifestyle including proper diet, sleep, exercise and social engagement. It is the strength of immune system rather than age alone, which affects relative vulnerability. Get the facts from credible sources such as WHO, CDC or public health institutions.

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