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    Limit contact, wash hands, but no masks: Coronavirus advice from Narayana Health's Viren Shetty

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    Limit contact, wash hands, but no masks: Coronavirus advice from Narayana Health's Viren Shetty

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    “Limit contact, wash your hands, try and stay at home," advises Viren Shetty, executive director and group COO of Narayana Health, on ways to combat the threat of coronavirus. "I would very strongly recommend people not to buy caps, masks and gloves," he added, dispelling such protections as mere myths.

    “Limit contact, wash your hands, try and stay at home," advises Viren Shetty, executive director and group COO of Narayana Health, on ways to combat the threat of coronavirus. "I would very strongly recommend people not to buy caps, masks and gloves," he added, labelling the adoption of such measures as ineffective.
    “To be fair we are not prepared for most things in this country. However, we have isolation wards spread out across most of hospitals, government medical colleges, private medical colleges and all of these have made themselves available to the government,” said Shetty in an interview with CNBC-TV18.
    “Should it come to that, we have capacity to deal with the patients in a limited case, but should it come to the issue of a massive epidemic any health system across the world would be under tremendous amount of strain,” he added.
    On directions from the government and health authorities with regards to combating the threat of coronavirus, he said, “The protocol for this is standard — as and when patient shows up and with suspected cases of COVID-19, we would isolate them, take their samples while keeping them in isolation, send the samples to the Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest Diseases. If it comes back positive then we immediately send them into further isolation in one of the government approved facilities or if not, we send them back home and advise them to quarantine themselves at home.”
    About immediate public health steps, Shetty said, “The most important thing that anyone can do right now is to pressure your local neta (political representative) to allot more money for healthcare. The fact is that even in the best of times we are barely able to manage with the current health facility that we have.
    “Limit contact, wash your hands, try and stay at home. If you have a cold, don’t be a hero and minimise all international travel as much as possible,” he added.
    Debunking myths about coronavirus, Shetty said that intense summer heat in India won't be a protection against the coronavirus.
    “The fact is Singapore and Thailand, which are countries as hot as India, have seen an outbreak as well as countries like West Africa. So I wouldn’t say heat is going to protect us.
    “The most plausible explanation for why it has taken a long time for the virus to catch up in India is because our supply chain is almost decoupled from China. So we don’t have close economic links with China that has caused earlier transmission in those other countries, but if I were to debunk a couple of other myths, I would very strongly recommend people not to buy caps, masks and gloves.
    "The fact is hospitals need these for their health workers. There is a huge shortage in the market, there is a lot of stockpiling, it is raising the cost for hospitals who need these equipment to do the day-to-day and we are not able to get that,” Shetty added.
    On the progress in combating coronavirus Shetty said that effective treatment is still some distance away.
    “In China and United States there are a lot of trials going on and they managed to isolate a few genetic markers for this but the fact is we are far from identifying any effective treatments.
    “A lot of plants in China have been shut down and so a lot of the active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) that the Indian drug industry depend on have been disrupted and so a drug that we depend on an anti-coagulant called Heparin, which we require for surgery has become hard to come by and the cost to import this has gone up at least three times."
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