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'Only a matter of time that we will see cases everywhere'

By Dr Trupti Gilada
March 31, 2020 08:15 IST
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In the times of coronavirus, what's the best way to disinfect your groceries and vegetables?

Can flies carry Covid-19?

Can steam inhalation or hot drinks protect you?

People all over have been asking these questions in regards to fighting the deadly coronavirus.

IMAGE: A man wearing a mask walks on a deserted street during a nationwide lockdown imposed in the wake of coronavirus pandemic, at the Main Bazaar in Paharganj in New Delhi. Photograph: Kamal Singh/PTI Photo

Dr Trupti Gilada (below), an infectious disease specialist, who practises at Prince Aly Khan Hospital and at Unison Medicare and Research Centre, both in south Mumbai, interacted with our readers on March 30, 2020, and clarified many doubts pertaining to preventing Covid-19.


Here is the complete chat transcript:

Dr Trupti Gilada: 
Hello all! I hope you are all at home and keeping safe. I am here to answer your questions on Covid-19.

Hari S:
I am from Mumbai. In the morning and sometimes during the day or night I have a cough, runny nose and irritation in my throat and sometimes I do also experience difficulty in breathing. I had gone to a local doctor and he advised rest. Please tell me what to do.

Dr Trupti Gilada:
Many symptoms of any viral illness like influenza or even coronavirus are similar to each other. Mild cold, cough, fever can be managed at home with symptomatic medications from your doctor. No tests are advised at this point. But please isolate yourself and manage strict hand hygiene and cough etiquette.

Vinod S:
Should we keep our windows shut to avoid the coronavirus from coming inside my house? Can it come through air or from flies?

Dr Trupti Gilada:
On the contrary, keep your windows open to allow good cross ventilation. Coronavirus will not enter through your windows or through house flies. It will come in through contaminated hands and coughing individuals with uncovered mouths.

Balasubramaniam Baalan Subramaniam:

I am from Bengaluru. During the day and also in the evening I am having an allergic cough and sometimes with a running nose. No fever. Most of the time I end up taking one Cetirizine tablet. The symptoms stops immediately and at night I get a good night's sleep. What should I do? Is it safe to take a hydrochloride tablet every day? Is it possible to get coronavirus in this situation?

Dr Trupti Gilada:
Cetirizine or any other anti-allergic is safe. If these are your usual complaints that settle with medicines, this may not be coronavirus. Do not worry.

Mahesh Mansukhani:
Can we take morning walks without masks, but by maintaining safe distances in New Friends Colony in Delhi. We walk around 6.30 am.

Dr Trupti Gilada
Yes, you definitely can take walks. Just follow strict social distancing and wash your hands as soon as you come back.

Sitaram Narayan Shetty:
I am male, 53 years old and have low immunity suffering from chronic diseases. What precautions should I take?

Dr Trupti Gilada:
There aren't any extra precautions for those with other underlying diseases. Just very strict social distancing, hand and cough hygiene. Good hydration and good nutrition and rest.

Satya Singh:
Can the Covid-19 virus come from supply of water into our taps?

Dr Trupti Gilada:
Fortunately, Covid-19 is not a water-borne or food borne disease. Having said that please drink filtered water and cooked food to protect yourself from the other diseases.

Sharon Dias:
Can we take morning or evening walks in a housing society after maintaining six feet distance from each other.

Dr Trupti Gilada:
Yes. You definitely can take walks. Just follow strict social distancing and wash your hands as soon as you come back.

Prakash Labhane:
Is the use of an air conditioner not safe? If yes, then how?

Dr Trupti Gilada:
There are no studies that talk of the safety of ACs in the times of coronavirus. But it is always better for all respiratory infectious diseases to have a good aeration and ventilation. So minimising the use of the AC, if possible, might help with the current understanding, especially when there are too many people in a room.

Ashwin Raje:
We stay home the whole day and only once a day go out to get milk and essential items. On our return, we immediately take a bath instantly. Also put all the bought items soaked in detergent water for half an hour. Thereafter, since we are home only so do we still need to wash hands with soap or plain water is alright? Please confirm.

Dr Trupti Gilada:
It is always a good idea to wash hands before cooking, after eating, after handled high touch areas like remote controls, cell phones etc. Most importantly, do not touch your face with unwashed hands at any point.

Subrahmaniyan R-B:
I am a senior citizen, aged 73 years. I underwent a bypass in 2000 and since then on medication for blood pressure, cholesterol and sugar. Now, I am asked not to go out at all. What is the method for me to go and get essentials since there are no youngsters at home? Online services are unable to meet small needs.

Dr Trupti Gilada:
I understand your plight. Are there neighbours, relatives or anyone at all you can request to help you with essentials? A lot of people will come ahead at such times to lend you a helping hand. In the meanwhile -- if you do step out, make sure you keep away from people, wash hands as soon as you return and contact your doctor at the first sign of any illness.

Uday Chittal:
When we have declared that we have come up with some medicines for coronavirus almost two weeks ago, then why is it that the number of cured patients is so few?

Dr Trupti Gilada:
Unfortunately, we do not have any curative medications for coronavirus. The medicines being tried are all based on anecdotal reports from other countries. Additionally, infectious diseases don't cease as soon as there is a cure because people still keep transmitting the disease before they get diagnosed. The cure we see in numbers can also be because of the natural course of the disease, not always medications.

Rupankar Pathak:
As per a doctor, covid-19 virus may not infect human if his/her immune system is strong but he/she may act as a carrier. My question is how long he/she will carry the virus.

Dr Trupti Gilada:
We do not have the answer to this question yet. Various studies have said this time could be from a few days to a few weeks. That is the reason why social distancing (in varying intensity) is going to be required not just for the next 21 days but for months together.

1) Is steam inhalation taken by a person every day at a particular time effective to kill coronavirus? 2) Does Covid-19 become ineffective in hot weather (like the summers in India)?

Dr Trupti Gilada:
Steam inhalation has no effect on coroanvirus. We do not know about effect of summer yet. Let us not fall for such claims and become complacent in our efforts and hygiene practices. Let us all follow what is proven and known to work.

Chandan Saha:
What is the best way to ensure that there is no Covid-19 virus left in the items (grocery/vegetables/fruits/fish) purchased from the market?

Dr Trupti Gilada:
There is no way to know. Just wash everything and consume cooked food as much as possible.

Sukhvinder Singh:
I am from Guwahati and presently there is no case of Covid-19 in Assam. My question is that if the temperature turns out to be hot in April will that weaken the virus?

Dr Trupti Gilada:
It's only a matter of time that we will see cases everywhere. Be home, be safe. The effect of summer is unpredictable.

Viswanath R:
Doctor, I am a 65-year-old man and staying with my wife. During the day, I feel some light cough chest congestion. Please advise.

Dr Trupti Gilada:
Please consult your doctor for any specific medical complaints. Do not self-medicate. Good rest, hydration and nutrition should help too.

B V Satyanarayana:
If soap can break the fat envelope of the virus, what if I apply a soap layer like a make-up ... Or may be SPF cream on my exposed hands and body.

Dr Trupti Gilada:
You need both soap and water for the requisite action -- just soap does not suffice.

Satyabrata Pattanayak:
How much time does it take for the virus to move from forehead to eye? If I touch my nose then how much time will take to lungs? Will hot water melt the virus during the journey from nose to lung?

Dr Trupti Gilada:
If you touch your face with unwashed hands, please wash your face with soap and water too. There isn't a travel time for the virus from one place to the other -- it needs to gain entry through your nose, mouth and eyes directly with contaminated hands.

Ramchandra Marathe:
My children complain of a throat pain. One is aged 10 and the other is 6. What should I do?

Dr Trupti Gilada:
Please contact their pediatrician and take advice. Wouldn't advise you to self-medicate or give you any advice based on a short chat like this.

Pradip Parida:
If there is no solution for coronavirus, why isn't homeopathic medicines like BALASUN Q, ASTIVA Q etc being used as they are very successful to fight these types of symptoms.

Dr Trupti Gilada:
This is the first time we have had coronavirus in the country. No medications are proven as a cure whether allopathy, homeopathy or Ayurveda. So please do not fall prey to false claims.

Aman Sharma:
What precautions to be taken care for courier deliveries, fruits and vegetables?

Dr Trupti Gilada:
Wipe down courier bags. Wash fruits and veggies. Peel or cook them before consumption.

Dr Trupti Gilada:
Thank you everyone for being here. Please stay home. Stay safe and please avoid sharing unverified information and rumours. Take care and bye.

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Dr Trupti Gilada