Thai Health Ministry advises elders on preventive measures against COVID-19

Thai Health Ministry gives advice to elders on how to avoid COVID-19.

The Department of Health Director General Panpimol Wipulakorn said today that most COVID-19 patients in Thailand are of working age, however they could carry and unknowingly transmit the virus to elderly family members at home.

She said almost half of the people who have died from coronavirus disease complications are in the 60-89 years old age group, thus it is crucial for elders to protect themselves, as well as family members who should help protect the older ones.

Senior citizens are now asked not to leave home, always wash hands before eating and after using the bathroom, refrain from touching their face, eyes, mouth, and nose, eat only well cooked meals and use a personal serving spoon when eating meals from a shared dish, keeping a physical distance from others of 1-2 meters. It is also better to opt for other non-physical communication channels such as the telephone or a messaging app to communicate with family members and other people.

During the traditional Thai New Year period, which is no longer a national holiday this year, people are discouraged from visiting family at their hometown.

“It will be better if we all stay sheltered at our current place of living and find other ways to communicate with parents during this festival. If you live far away from your hometown, perhaps you can call them, FaceTime, or send LINE messages, to reach out and express love to your family this holiday season, even when they are not is the same place as you. But if you are already with your family right now, all traditional activities such as water pouring should be avoided, as well as hugging and kissing. You can still show gratitude and respect to senior family members, but every person must keep a good distance from others,” Dr Panpimol added.

The Department of Disease Control Deputy Director General Tanarak Plipat said most COVID-19 patients will start showing symptoms on the 5th day after contracting the virus. The virus, shed through the patient’s respiratory droplets, can stay on surfaces for 1-3 days, but can be killed using detergents or disinfectants.

“There are two main methods a person can contract the virus. First is through breathing in the virus directly. We have discussed that the way we can prevent his scenario is to avoid crowded areas, being away from coughing or sneezing people, and wear a face mask. The second method is when an infected person coughs, the virus will come out and stay in the environment. A frequent question is for how long will the virus stay active in the environment. It will depend on which surface the virus stays. On hard, shiny surfaces, the virus can stay active for 48-72 hours, or 2-3 days, but on perforated surfaces such as cardboard, paper, hard cardboard boxes, or clothes, the virus can only stay active for some 24 hours. We can disinfect these surfaces easily using a water and detergent mix, which is enough to kill the virus. Other chemicals such as 70% Alcohol, 0.5% Hydrogen peroxide, 0.1% Sodium hypochlorite are also effective, and these chemicals are not difficult to find,” Dr Tanarak explained.

The current treatment guidelines for COVID-19 patients, say patients with mild symptoms need not receive any medication and should be left to heal by themselves. Patients with serious conditions, which account for some 15% of all COVID-19 patients, will receive antiviral drugs.

On sentiment in certain communities who don’t want those who have recovered from the disease to go back, the DDC deputy chief said today that all recovered patients within a 14-day timeframe can return to their lives in communities safely, and they will be wearing a face mask. (NNT)