By Edgar Nyandong
“We have said it before and we’ll say it again: young people are not invincible. Young people can be infected by the coronavirus; young people can die; and young people can transmit the virus to others.” World Health Organization (WHO) Director General Tedros Adhanom made this statement during a press event in July, 2020. This was after it emerged that younger people were letting their guard down in the belief that only the elderly were at a higher risk of Covid-19 infection.
Six months after the onset of Covid-19 in Kenya, a lot more information is readily available on who is at risk and how we can better protect ourselves and those vulnerable to infection. Though people of all ages are at risk of infection, the elderly, pregnant women, those with pre-existing medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and heart disease, and young children, with pre-existing conditions, appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus.
The WHO has advised everyone to take steps to protect themselves from the virus by following good hand and respiratory hygiene. The at-risk group requires a closer level of care. For instance, the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions might find it difficult to visit their doctors for regular check-ups as a result of social distancing. To help, we can get them in touch with physicians online or make them speak to doctors so that they can be sure of their health conditions.
As we do this, we can offer a helping hand in getting groceries, medicines and essential items for them. This is to ensure they are subjected to as little exposure to the members of the public as possible. Additionally, since the pandemic has taken a mental toll on a lot of people, doctors have advised that we should reach out to and connect with the elderly and those who have pre-existing conditions to see if they are okay. Their mental wellness is what will keep them strong and going during this time.
Taking care of young children requires keeping them healthy by teaching them and reinforcing preventive actions like making handwashing a routine family activity. It is also important to help your child stay active by taking a walk with them or riding a bicycle around the neighborhood. For those who do not want to step outside, you can have indoor activities throughout the day to help your child stay healthy and focused.
According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is no way to ensure one has zero risk of infection, so it is important to understand the risks and know how to be as safe as possible. Though they are not more at risk than anyone else to Covid-19, expectant mothers are carrying another life and both of them need to be protected from risk of exposure.
Expectant mothers should also limit close contact interactions with other people as much as possible. Following other health protocols like wearing a mask, handwashing with soap and sanitising are also important. Expectant mothers should continue to seek healthcare and we can offer to take them for their prenatal clinics.
In general, the more people you interact with, the more closely you interact with them, and the longer that interaction, the higher your risk of getting and spreading the coronavirus. Before approaching any member of the vulnerable group, we must make sure that we are well sanitised and have followed all the important steps of safety. We should talk to them about Covid-19, the importance of social distancing and provide them with all the right information required on the precautions that should be taken.