Almost every single child growing up in India, and possibly world over is told to cover the mouth when coughing. Coughing without covering one’s mouth is considered a “bad manner”. Even an unschooled grandma tells this to a child in the remotest of villages.
In the times of novel coronavirus pandemic, this simple “manner” is the part of advisories by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the Union health minister in India and all the governments across the world. A death in Amerian city of Detroit reinforces why this good manner is life-saving.
A public transport driver in Detroit, United States put out a video-post on Facebook on March 21 as coronavirus infection was raging through America. He was angry that while he was doing his public duty, a woman who got into the bus, coughed without covering her face.
His Facebook post can be viewed here. The driver says, “They [health agencies and experts] are telling you every day what to do: if you cough, cough in your arm. Sneeze in some tissue.”
Visibly shaken, he says in the video, “That [coughing without covering mouth] lets me know that some folks don’t careYou all need to take this s**t seriously. There’s folks dying out here (sic).”
He also explains why he felt so upset: “I feel violated. I feel violated for the folks that were on the bus when this happened.”
Eleven days later, the driver, identified as Jason Hargrove, died of Covid-19, the disease caused by novel coronavirus, officially named as SARS-CoV-2.
“Everybody in America should watch it,” was the prescription from Detroit mayor after Hargrove’s death due to Covid-19. This can well be the prescription in India.
His is a story that tells that every single individual is a warrior in the fight against novel coronavirus pandemic, and that anyone can be a chink in the armour in this battle.
Coughing and sneezing are the principal means of viral loads coming into open from the reservoir of an infected person. A single cough or sneeze can release millions of coronaviruses, which can remain airborne as aerosols for a few hours before settling down on surfaces.
A healthy person, if touches a surface where droplets containing coronaviruses have settled, is highly likely to get infected. Most infections happen when people touch their nose and mouth after picking up pathogens like coronavirus from an infected surface.
On an average, a person touches her face 20-30 times in an hour. These are the number of times, he/she has to deposit viruses into mouth and nose. Hands are the most useful mobile organ but due to their utility, they also pose dangers of infection during a pandemic.
If an infected person does not release coronavirus out in the open, the contagion would die on its own in due course of time. But coughing and sneezing are common symptoms of many flues and Covid-19.T
o stop the spread of the virus, it is important to cover mouth and nose during coughing and sneezing. It is the simplest yet most effective preventive measure, especially by an infected person.
Else, the result could be as devastating as that brave Detroit driver, who warned of the consequences days before he met with the worst eventuality. The day after his video warning, Hargrove was back in his driver’s seat of the same public transport. He could still have been plying the bus but for some unwitting coronavirus patient. He was married, and is survived by six children among others.
This is a story that all Indians must read and pay utmost heed to his before-death advice as the cases of coronavirus infection double in about just four days.