Corona Virus - All you need to know

By Dr. Sandeep Budhiraja in Internal Medicine

Mar 25 , 2020 | 9 min read


A handbook for residential communities and Corporates

Understanding the CORONAVIRUS

The outbreak of a Novel Coronavirus infection has made headlines around the world. A new strain belonging to the coronavirus family, it is believed to have originated from human contact with bats or snakes in Wuhan, China. During times like this, it is wise to adopt a few simple steps to stay safe.

Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). The novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.


  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Headache

How does CORONAVIRUS spread?

  • The virus spreads when cough droplets of a sick person gets transferred to a healthy person (eye, nose, face)
  • Infected people can transfer the infection to other things and surfaces like door knobs, lift buttons, handrails etc. if you touch such contaminated surfaces and then touch your eyes, nose and face

How can we AVOID getting infected?

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after touching a suspected contaminated surface
  • While coughing, cover your face with a disposable tissue or use a mask and discard them immediately in a waste bin. Don't wear the mask for more than 1 day
  • In the absence of disposable tissues, you may cough/sneeze into your folded elbow
  • Avoid the handshakes and hugs. Most hygienic form of greeting is Namaste!
  • Avoid coming into contact with people who are sick
  • Avoid touching your Eyes, Nose and Face
  • Use an alcohol based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available
  • Avoid sharing dishes, glasses, bedding and other household items with those with flu like symptoms
  • Avoid large gathering, because you might not know who is sick. Infected people show no symptoms in the initial stages but they still might infect others
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
  • And Finally, Seek medical advice if you are sick


The low-cost measures below will help prevent the spread of infections in your workplace, such as colds, flu and stomach bugs, and protect your customers, contractors and employees. Employers should start doing these things now, even if COVID-19 has not arrived in the communities where they operate.

  • Make sure your workplaces, break-rooms, leisure area and washrooms are clean and hygienic.
  • Surfaces (e.g. desks, tables, door knobs/door handles, lift buttons) and objects (e.g. telephones, keyboards) need to be wiped with disinfectant regularly.
  • Avoid biometric punch in/punch out and attendance until the Coronavirus Pandemic has subsided.
  • Be flexible on your leave policy and approve leaves taken during this time as Sick Leaves.
  • Promote regular and thorough hand-washing by employees, contractors and customers.
    • Promote regular and thorough hand-washing by employees, contractors and customers.
    • Put sanitizing hand rub dispensers in prominent places around the workplace.
    • Make sure these dispensers are regularly refilled.
    • Display posters promoting hand-washing – ask your local public health authority or healthcare partner for these.
    • Combine this with other communication measures such as offering guidance from occupational health and safety officers, briefings at meetings and information on the intranet, desktop screen savers and emailers to promote hand-washing.
    • Make sure that staff, contractors and customers have access to places where they can wash their hands with soap and water.
  • Promote good respiratory hygiene in the workplace.
    • Display posters promoting respiratory hygiene. Combine this with other communication measures such as offering guidance from occupational health and safety officers, briefing at meetings and information on the intranet etc.
    • Ensure that face masks and/or paper tissues are available at your workplaces, for those who develop a runny nose or cough at work. Place closed bins for hygienically disposing the tissues and masks.
  • Brief your employees, contractors and customers that if COVID-19 starts spreading in your community anyone with even a mild cough or low-grade fever (37.3 C or more) needs to stay at home. They should also stay home (or work from home) if they have had to take simple medications, such as paracetamol/acetaminophen, ibuprofen or aspirin, which may mask symptoms of infection.
    • Keep communicating and promoting the message that people need to stay at home even if they have just mild symptoms of COVID-19.
    • Display posters with this message in your workplaces. Combine this with other communication channels commonly used in your organization or business.
    • Your occupational health services, local public health authority or other partners may have developed campaign materials to promote this message.


What to do in case of an outbreak

Develop a plan of what to do if someone becomes ill with suspected COVID-19 at one of your workplaces

Consider how to identify persons who may be at risk, and support them, without inviting stigma and discrimination into your workplace. This could include persons who have recently travelled to an area reporting cases, or other personnel who have conditions that put them at higher risk of serious illness (e.g. diabetes, heart and lung disease, older age).
The plan should cover putting the ill person in a room or area where they are isolated from others in the workplace, limiting the number of people who have contact with the sick person and contacting the local health authorities.
Promote regular teleworking across your organization. If there is an outbreak of COVID-19 in your community, the health authorities may advise people to avoid public transport and crowded places. Teleworking will help your business keep operating while your employees stay safe.
Tell your local public health authority you are developing the plan and seek their input.

Develop a contingency and business continuity plan for an outbreak in the communities where your business operates

  • The plan should address how to keep your business running even if a significant number of employees, contractors and suppliers cannot come to your place of business - either due to local restrictions on travel or because they are ill.
  • The plan will help prepare your organization for the possibility of an outbreak of COVID-19 in its workplaces or community. It may also be valid for other health emergencies.
  • Communicate to your employees and contractors about the plan and make sure they are aware of what they need to do – or not do – under the plan. Emphasize key points such as the importance of staying away from work even if they have only mild symptoms or have had to take simple medications (e.g. paracetamol, ibuprofen) which may mask the symptoms.
  • Be sure your plan addresses the mental health and social consequences of a case of COVID-19 in the workplace or in the community and offer information and support. Encourage employees to share facts and information from credible sources such as the World Health Organization & Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
  • For small and medium-sized businesses without in-house staff health and welfare support, develop partnerships and plans with your local health service providers in advance of any emergency.
  • Get in touch with local public health authorities for support and guidance in developing your plan.


Instructions for contacts being home quarantined

Definition of contact

A contact is defined as a healthy person that has been in such association with an infected person or a contaminated environment as to have exposed and is therefore at a higher risk of developing disease.

A contact in the context of COVID-19 is:

  • A person living in the same household as a COVID-19 case.
  • A person having had direct physical contact with a COVID-19 case or his/her infectious secretions without recommended personal protective equipment (PPE) or with a possible breach of PPE.
  • A person who was in a closed environment or had face to face contact with a COVID-19 case at a distance of within1metre including air travel; The epidemiological link may have occurred within a 14‐day period before the onset of illness in the case under consideration.

The home quarantined person should:

  • Stay in a well-ventilated single-room preferably with an attached/separate toilet. If another family member needs to stay in the same room, it’s advisable to maintain a distance of at least 1 meter between the two.
  • Needs to stay away from elderly people, pregnant women, children and persons with co-morbidities (heart condition, diabetes, people with compromised immunity) within the household.
  • Restrict his/her movement within the house.
  • Under no circumstances attend any social/religious gathering e.g. wedding, condolences, etc.

He should also follow the under mentioned public health measures at all times:

  • Wash hands as often with soap and water or with alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Ensure that you wash them thoroughly.
  • Avoid sharing household items e.g. dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, bedding, or other items with other people at home.
  • Wear a surgical mask all the time. The mask should be changed every 6-8 hours and disposed off. Disposable masks are never to be reused
  • Masks used by patients/caregivers/ close contacts during home care should be disinfected using ordinary bleach solution (5%) or sodium hypochlorite solution (1%) and then disposed off either by burning or deep burial.
  • Used masks should be considered as potentially infected.
  • If symptoms appear (cough/fever/difficulty in breathing), he/she should immediately inform the nearest health centre or call 011-23978046.

Instructions for the family members of persons being home quarantined.

  • Only an assigned family member should be tasked with taking care of such a person.
  • Avoid shaking the soiled linen or direct contact with skin.
  • Use disposable gloves when cleaning the surfaces or handling soiled linen.
  • Wash hands after removing gloves.
  • Visitors should not be allowed.
  • In case the person being quarantined becomes symptomatic, all his close contacts will be home quarantined (for 14 days) and followed up for an additional 14 days or till the report of such case turns out negative on lab testing.

Environmental sanitation

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces in the quarantined person’s room (e.g. bed frames, tables etc.) daily with 1% Sodium Hypochlorite Solution.
  • Clean and disinfect toilet surfaces daily with regular household bleach solution/phenolic disinfectant.
  • Clean the clothes and other linen used by the person separately using common household detergent and dry.

Duration of home quarantine

  • The home quarantine period is for 14 days from contact with a confirmed case or earlier if a suspect case (of whom the index person is a contact) turns out negative on laboratory testing


Small things you must do to take care of yourselves and your families

  • Stop bringing laptops and hand bags to the hospital
  • Don't carry wallets, money or wear watches to the hospital. Just a credit card, some notes or digital money should be enough
  • Clean your spectacles, car/bike keys, mobiles or any other things you've carried to the hospital with antibacterial solution on arriving at hospital and right when you reach home
  • Change into hospital scrubs/uniform first thing when you arrive and back into home clothes just before leaving
  • Wear a mask when in the hospital and discard used ones correctly
  • Don't use phones, remotes, iPads in duty rooms in hospital or even on beds at home
  • When you reach home, better to leave mobile phone case in your car/two wheeler/in a separate bag and not carry it home
  • On reaching home, ask someone to open the door for you and move straight to take a shower. Best to wash your clothes immediately or put for wash separately
  • Those with elders or children at home, better to stay away from their rooms for few days to not expose them to any infection
  • Wash your hands regularly and keep sanitising