As the restrictions have been eased across the country, we have seen a surge in the COVID-19 positive cases. Now, it has become imperative to follow the preventive measures laid by the respective government and healthcare authorities, especially for the high-risk group. The high-risk group has been found to be twice as susceptible to the COVID-19 severe infection.

What is a high risk group?

According to the CDC (Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention), it is people of any age with certain underlying medical conditions for severe illness from COVID-19. Some of the conditions include Chronic kidney disease, respiratory conditions like COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), asthma (moderate to severe), cystic fibrosis, pulmonary fibrosis, type 1 and 2 diabetes mellitus, obesity (more than 30 as BMI).

Cardiac conditions like heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathy. Neurological conditions, such as dementia, pregnancy, liver disease, smoking, type 1 diabetes mellitus, thalassemia. An immunocompromised state like blood and bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids, or use of any other immune weakening condition. Children who are medically complex, who have the neurologic, genetic, metabolic condition, or who have congenital heart disease are at higher risk for the severe illness from COVID -19 than other children. People age less than 10 years and older than 65 years have also been found to be at high risk for developing severe COVID-19.

 What precautions are to be taken by a high-risk group?

1. Don’t venture out unnecessarily. In case of an emergency, take all the precautionary measures laid by the health authorities like wearing a mask, maintaining a physical distance of at least 1 m, avoid crowded places and gatherings. Hand and respiratory hygiene should be maintained. Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth.

2. A prior appointment should be taken before visiting a hospital. If possible online consultation with the doctor can also be availed.

3. Regular medicines to be taken as advised by the treating doctor for the underlying ailment. Blood pressure and blood glucose should be kept in check in hypertensive and diabetic patients.

4. Foods rich in vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, and other essential nutrients to be added to the daily diet. 

These are various precautions among various others laid by the government and health authorities.

When to seek help?

As the disease is barely 10 months old and still very novel, new symptoms have been regularly added. CDC has recently added three new symptoms of the novel coronavirus to its ongoing list. Congestion or runny nose, nausea and diarrhea were added including the already conventional symptoms like fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty in breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headaches, the new loss of taste, or smell and sore throat. According to the latest data released by MOHFW (Ministry of Health and Family Welfare), older people and Immuno-suppressed patients in particular which belong to the high-risk group may present with atypical symptoms such as fatigue, reduced alertness, reduced mobility, diarrhea, loss of appetite, delirium, and absence of fever. Children might not have reported fever or cough as frequently as adults.

Until we have a vaccine for this dreaded virus, prevention is the best cure we have.