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No evidence to prove newspapers transmit covid-19: Dr Trehan

By R Dutta Choudhury

GUWAHATI, March 27 - There is no evidence to prove that the COVID-19 is transmitted through newspapers, admitted Dr Naresh Trehan, who is one of the most prominent physician of India.

Welcoming the government�s decision to go for the 21-day lockdown to prevent the spread of coronavirus, Trehan said that responsible behaviour of all the citizens of the country is a must at this crucial juncture.

Talking to The Assam Tribune, Dr Trehan, who is the chairman and managing director of Medanta The Medicity, said that the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has also admitted that there is no evidence as yet of COVID-19 transmitting through newspapers.

However, at the same time, Dr Trehan, who was awarded the Padma Sri and Padma Bhushan by the Government of India for his distinguished services in the field of medicine, said that people should take care while reading the newspapers. He said that instead of taking any chance, people should wash hands after reading newspapers. If someone wants to be doubly sure, he or she can wear gloves while reading newspapers and put those in dust bin afterwards.

Dr Trehan said that the same principle should be followed in case of all other items coming from outside. Every person should wash hands after touching currency notes, which are touched by many people. Same is the case with all other materials brought from outside.

�If a person touches any item brought from outside, including packets of food, he or she should wash hands. My advice is to wash hands after reading books touched by others to be safe,� he added.

Replying to a question on the 21-day lockdown, Dr Trehan said it is the best way to stop spreading of the disease in India.

He pointed out that COVID-19 is mostly spread by droplets from cough or sneeze by an affected person and that is why social distancing is a must. Everyone should maintain a distance of two meters if possible and at least one meter from an infected person and wash hands regularly.

He expressed the view that if people maintain social distance and wash hands regularly, the chances of spreading of the disease would be minimized. If the people do not maintain social distance and do not wash hands, there is a risk of the disease spreading in mathematical progression and millions of people can be affected. An affected person may not show the signs of the disease in the initial stages and that is why, it is important for all to take preventive measures, he added.

Dr Trehan pointed out that within 14 days of the lockdown, the authorities would come to identify the affected persons and they can be isolated to prevent spreading of the disease.

�That is why, the lockdown is the best possible step to stop spreading of the disease and at this juncture all of us should act like responsible citizens do,� he added.

When asked whether stopping of international flights earlier could have helped in preventing the disease, Dr Trehan said, � It is a difficult question to answer. The government stopped the international flights in the middle of this month and may be stopping of such flights earlier could have left a large number of Indian citizens stranded abroad.�

Replying to a question as to why countries like Italy, which have much better healthcare system than India are suffering so badly, Dr Trehan said, �May be they did not take effective steps at the right time. Moreover, there are too many elderly people in Italy and they are the worst affected.�

It may be mentioned here that 14 tourists from Italy, who were affected by the disease, were treated in Medanta The Medicity and 11 of them have been discharged and three are still undergoing treatment. The doctors and other staff of the hospital, who are treating them, are staying in the hospital round the clock. The hospital also started new protocol immediately after the disease was detected in India and other hospitals are now following it.

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