A doctor’s view on how you can stay healthy as corona cases in India rise

Dr. Lalit Kaushik
March 16, 2021

In recent weeks there has been an uptick in corona cases in India. The 7-day average is now around 15,500 new cases, and for reference, this is what it was during the middle of January 2021 and the end of June 2020. Since cases had steadily been dropping from mid-September till about mid-Feb, when the 7-day average was about 93,000 fresh cases, the recent increase has led some health pundits to call this a second wave, perhaps from imported virus strains. However, it is too premature to confirm this.

There are some experts who believe that it is unlikely that India will undergo a second wave of corona, meaning that this recent surge in cases have the same impact as the earlier surge, which necessitated the lockdown in India. Whichever way you take it, the situation is a lot more optimistic now than what it was when the virus first appeared in March of 2020. This is because of several reasons:

  1.  India is much nearer to herd immunity than it ever was. One mathematical model predicts that as much as 60% of the population has already been exposed to the virus.
  2.  The healthcare sector has gained a lot of experience and is no longer fighting an unknown enemy. For instance, doctors now know which drugs can help patients manage their symptoms and the focus is not so much on ventilators.
  3. Vaccinations are already underway, and the COVID-19 vaccine, offered by two companies, are now available for the elderly (above age 60) and those above age 45 with comorbidities such as diabetes, heart disease, and kidney illnesses.

With this in the backdrop, your response to the fresh rise in coronavirus cases should be threefold: You must avoid panic and complacency and you must be proactive about our health.

To help you respond with confidence, here are 4 actionable tips.

Inch your way towards being healthier and disease-free

There are numerous studies that point to comorbidities as being a factor that leads to deteriorating COVID-19 outcomes. Put plainly, the IMCR says that conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, blood pressure, and diabetes increase the risk of COVID-related fatalities and ICU admission risk by 15-20%.

Why does this happen? One way of understanding this is to realise that ‘comorbidity’ is a term used to indicate that there are two or more diseases in the same person. So, if you are present with comorbidities there is a greater chance that your immune system may be compromised and/or your body may already be stressed fighting underlying conditions. You may also develop secondary infections due to the comorbidity.

To give your body the best chance at fighting COVID-19, or any novel disease for that matter, it is a good idea to avoid such diseases or, at any rate, control them. One can use the word ‘avoid’ for many pertinent comorbid conditions as often these diseases boil down to lifestyle choices.

Currently, there are many young Indians who a prediabetic and there are some easy ways to prevent this from leading to diabetes. For instance, you can:

  •  Reduce sugars and refined carbs
  •  Exercise often
  •  Maintain an optimal BMI

These tips also help with managing diabetes. For high blood pressure, you may want to:

  •  Work out often
  •  Watch your diet and sodium levels
  •  Reduce stress

An easy way to get proactive about your health is to download the Bajaj Finserv Health App. It allows you to search for the best doctors in your vicinity, book appointments at their clinics online, benefit from video consultations and more. With a doctor on board, you can draw up a plan of action that will help you remain in the best of shape. You could also ask a doctor questions like:

  •  What are the recommended precautions after vaccination?
  •  What are the side effects of COVID-19 vaccine?
  •  Which COVID vaccine is most effective?
  •  Can I consume alcohol after corona vaccination?
  • How to undertake COVID vaccine registration?

Remember how COVID-19 is known to spread

The best way to avoid complacency is to recall the principles that helped during the period when the virus was raging. With the scientific community advising that COVID-19 spreads through infected respiratory droplets and also through contact with infected surfaces

lockdowns, physical distancing, and compulsory mask usage was enforced. Now that there is an air of laxity around, you may have to be proactive about making decisions that can stop the spread. Accordingly, you can:

  • Prioritising low-exposure areas (a local vendor is better than a big market)
  •  Avoid densely-congregated spaces
  •  Keep your mask on when meeting people
  •  Conducting business online when possible

If you are a business owner, you could take the initiative to enable working from home. Several large tech companies like Twitter and Google have rolled out work from home policies, and these can help especially in areas where the risk of exposure to the virus is growing.

Make mental health a priority

Health is not just the absence of disease, but a state of complete physical, mental, and social wellbeing. Keeping a well-balanced emotional state is important and it is true that often the mental effects of COVID-19 are neglected. The disease is linked to everything from suicide to anxiety, stress, fear of contagion, insomnia, isolation, burnout, and depression.

Many of these effects will last for years and to curb this psychological pandemic it is vital that you:

  •  Stay connected with friends and family
  •  Talk about your feelings
  •  Limit your news consumption
  •  Get adequate rest
  •  Pursue hobbies
  •  Exercise often
  •  Seek professional care when needed

Focus on what you eat

There is an old adage that says that “we are what we eat”. This is very true from the perspective of healthcare and you’ll notice that one remedy for practically all lifestyle disease is eating right. So, focus on eating healthy foods and not just tasty foods. Luckily, there are a lot of gratifying preparations within the Indian cuisine that are immensely healthy as well. For instance, you can add dals, chana masala, tandooris, and kebabs to your diet, while skipping things like papadums, naans, and samosas.

Once you take care of your diet, mental health, and lifestyle conditions, and adopt ways to curb the spread, you’ll remove panic out of the equation and be amongst the warriors changing the course of the disease in India!