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Practical steps to keep you safe from Covid-19 infection during the festivities

<p><span style="font-family: helvetica;"><img src="/nairobi/PublishingImages/free%20covid%2019%20test%20body%20image.jpg" alt="" style="margin: 5px;"/> </span></p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;"><strong style="color: #f0191e;">Photo Caption:</strong><em> Dr Chesimet Legson, a Senior House Officer at Aga Khan University Hospital’s Accident and Emergency Department collects a swab sample from a patient for COVID-19 testing.</em>​
</span></p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;">The festive season is here, and everyone is in celebration mode in the midst of a surge in Covid-19 infections owing to the omicron variant. The situation could have disrupted some people&#39;s plans while it has no effect to others. But in the midst of this confusion, what practical steps can you take to keep you and your family safe. Dr Samuel Otido, a Paediatric Pulmonologist at Aga Khan University Hospital Nairobi shares some safety tips to consider during this festive season.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;">The Omicron variant of SARS-COV-2 is relatively new and researchers are still learning its behaviour patterns. It is advisable that you still maintain the public health precautions of physical and social distancing, handwashing and hand sanitization, avoiding crowded places and wear mask in public areas. Only travel if it is really a must. We encourage self-isolation if one feels unwell and to seek medical attention if the symptoms worsen.</span></p><p><strong style="font-family: helvetica;">Will my vaccination be enough?</strong></p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;">We are living in a community where a large population still remains unvaccinated. However, Covid -19 affects both vaccinated and unvaccinated persons but the unvaccinated have the worse symptoms. We do encourage everyone eligible for the vaccines to get vaccinated.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;">If vaccinated, you are still not out of danger because you can still suffer Covid-19.  You are also encouraged to protect yourself and family by maintaining social/ physical distance, wearing protective facial masks, having celebrations/functions in an open area as opposed to having them indoors, and by utilizing proper hand hygiene methods exercises. Cough and sneezing etiquette must be practiced by everyone.</span></p><p><strong style="font-family: helvetica;">If I&#39;m hosting a party, what criteria can I use to protect the attendees as well as protect myself from them?</strong></p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;">To prevent the spread of the virus, we must invite few guests in the function (a manageable crowd), ask all guests to wear a facial mask, frequent hand sanitization and having designated handwashing areas. If the event is indoors, ensure adequate ventilation with free flow of air. It is also important to consider their vaccination status against Covid-19.</span></p><p><strong style="font-family: helvetica;">If I plan to travel, what measures can I take?</strong></p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;">The omicron variant is new. In South Africa, it has been shown that it is transmitted faster than the other variants. Therefore, only travel if you must. Maintain the public health measures of transmission prevention mentioned above. If using public transport, always keep the facial mask on and it should also be worn properly. Free flow of air in the vehicle should be maintained and if possible use cashless transaction.</span></p><p><strong style="font-family: helvetica;">Most children below 18 are unvaccinated but still at risk. How can they be kept safe?</strong></p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;">Even though children and adolescents have low risk for Covid-19, severe disease, they pose a greater risk in transmission of the virus. Anecdotal reports in Kenyan hospitals and around the world mention that there is a recent spike in children hospitalised with the new Covid-19 variant. Older children and adolescents should practice the public health precautions to avoid contracting and transmitting the virus to the elderly. Children should also avoid crowded places this festive season especially now when there is a spike in Covid-19 infection.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;">Children should continue getting their childhood vaccinations, eating a healthy balanced diet and to continue being active in sports/play. Children with chronic diseases should also not miss their scheduled hospital visits as those with co-morbidities are prone to get severe Covid-19 symptoms.
</span></p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;"><strong><em><span style="font-size: 12pt; line-height: 107%;">By Dr Samuel Otido, Paediatric
Pulmonologist at Aga Khan University Hospital, Nairobi</span></em></strong>
</span></p><p><em style="font-family: helvetica;">​This article was first published on Business Daily on December 24, 2021. Read more </em><a href=""><strong style="font-family: helvetica;"><em>HERE</em></strong></a><br style="font-family: helvetica;"/><br style="font-family: helvetica;"/></p>

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