Dr Christopher Oura

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Protecting yourself against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) making its way around the world and now the Caribbean region is paramount on the minds of many. With this in mind, Virology Professor at the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of the West Indies Dr Christopher Oura reinforced that washing your hands and avoiding contact with your face is the best method for citizens to employ.

These precautions, he said, not only protect individuals but also limits the spread of the virus.

“By taking these precautions ourselves, we’re helping everybody…each individual person has to take this on. We must not just think this isn’t going to happen to me. In this kind of unprecedented situation, our behaviour as an individual and a population—our behaviour needs to change. We all have to work together in this,” he said.

Dr Oura explained that this advice is based on the nature of the virus which is not airborne.

“This particular virus, COVID-19, is transmitted by relatively short distances. It’s transmitted by what we call droplet infection. So when we sneeze, we cough or when we speak, a certain amount of droplets would come out of our mouth,” he said. He explained that these droplets containing the virus falls onto surfaces or are placed on to them when people sneeze or cough into their hands and then touch something. It’s when we touch these very surfaces and place our hands on our faces that we transmit the infection to ourselves.

“They touch their mucus membrane (found in eyes, ears, inside the nose and inside the mouth among other regions) and that’s how the virus gets into their body. If you can stop the virus from getting into those membranes, you won’t get it,” he explained.

This is also why he joined in with other health officials in saying that N-95 masks won’t help prevent someone from contracting the infection.