In the world post Covid19, we will have to get used to many new things. Wear masks when out of home, keep a safe distance from anyone else, not touch surfaces like doors, lifts and staircase railings. We will have to wash our hands every few hours, reach home and change clothes before we sit down or hug our kids. This is the new normal, set to last at least 6months- 2 years, depending on how soon the world develops herd immunity or effective vaccination.
There will be no more eating out every weekend, no power lunches, no catch up coffee meets or lavish dinners. Or unending wedding functions. There will be many more video conferences,webinars, group meets and WhatsApp chats. I wonder when kids will finally go to school. Or attend their birthday parties! Will we have cricket matches any more? Will our sports facilities cease to exist?
In this new normal, I would ask patients and doctors alike to prepare for virtual clinics. Be mentally prepared to speak to your doctor on the phone instead of in person, and do video calls instead of reaching the clinic. Other than the times when a broken bone needs fixing ,a foreign body or wax needs to be removed, or a wound needs to be stitched up, it’s possible a lot of treatment will happen while you are at home.A lot of diagnostic tools will come up to be attached to the smart phone. ECG, blood pressure, ultrasound, audiometry, spirometry will soon be available on an app in your phone.These can be shared with your doctor and a prescription will be messaged to you.
I know many things will still need a hospital visit. Endoscopies. Angiographies. Deliveries and MTPs. Acute abdomen. Mostly it will be things that need procedural intervention.Routine outpatient services will be replaced to a large extent by video calls and telephonic consults. Online payments. The cost of in clinic visits will go up because of the extra expenditure on sanitation needs and the cost of personal protective equipment.
When I first heard of the term social distancing I thought that’s new. Covid 19 has changed the world in a way unimaginable even a few months back. Who would have thought billions of people would become home bound for indefinite periods of time?Who could ever imagine global prices of fuel become zero dollars. Who could have possibly imagined staying healthy would become a bigger priority than making money!! Well, the new normal is here. Welcome to the world post Covid19.
The term we needed to use is actually physical distancing, not social. Socially we’re attempting to become closer than ever before.We are on innumerable WhatsApp chats, connecting on Twitter,Instagram and Facebook. We are video conferencing with family, friends, relatives, cousins and colleagues; playing games on multiple apps. Man is a social animal. We need human interaction to feel normal. We need to talk, read, reach out and connect in some way or the other.
Physical distancing is imperative, we need not shake hands or hug, but when our smiles are hidden behind the masks let us try to make eye contact, let us wave out to each other, let us wish good evening from balconies. Reach out to people around you to let them know you still want to remain connected. I find people have become afraid of each other, we are frightened that someone might be carrying the virus and infect us.
I write to you as a concerned citizen of Gurgaon, Haryana and as a medical practitioner hoping for more proactive measures to be introduced in my state.
There are a few states which are preparing very hard for the Covid19 challenge at hand, and I have been hoping to see that kind of preparation being done in Haryana. Covid19 has come as a massive challenge to countries across the world, even the ones with fabulous world class medical infrastructure have buckled under the pressure. There are thousands of people reaching hospitals for testing, isolation, needing admission for pneumonia and ventilatory support.We have seen Italy, Iran, Spain and the US hospitals overburdened and cracking under the pressure of excessive number of patients. The lack of protective equipment, shortage of medicines and ventilators and high levels of infection in healthcare providers have stumped all of them….
India is about a month behind them. The Prime Minister in all his wisdom ordered a complete shut down early on which has helped delay the spread and these three weeks of lockdown could be used for medical capacity building.There are some parts of government administration feeding the needy, the others enforcing lockdown and the rest identifying, tracking and isolating patients and their contacts. What the health ministry could be doing right now is massive capacity building for medical infrastructure.
Whenever the lockdown opens partially or completely(it obviously cannot last for ever) ….. life will come back to normal. When it does, we will face a surge in number of covid19 patients. Whether it’s on April 15th or May or September.Can we hope that the lockdown will make the disease disappear? I wonder….