Securing Apartment Societies from Corona – Transcript of Webinar by Apollo Clinic

On 18th March 2020, ApnaComplex and its Health partner Apollo Clinic organized a live interactive webinar (for both users and non-users of ApnaComplex) to dispel myths and gain accurate medical information about the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), to help keep residential societies safe. The purpose of the session was to spread authentic information so that residents of apartment societies do not have to rely on unverified and unauthorized information from social media. 

This 1-hour live webinar was helmed by Dr. Phani Kumar Gorantla (MBBS with 12 years of experience) of Apollo Clinic. The first 15 minutes of the session were used to share all pertinent information about COVID-19 including how it started, how it spreads, signs & symptoms, precautionary measures, etc. The rest of the session was dedicated to answering all the participant queries, including how to protect residential societies from this outbreak.

The session was highly appreciated by all the attendees who participated from various residential societies from across the country.

To access the presentation shared during this session, please click here

To access the video recording of this live session, please click here

Following is the gist of the information shared by the doctor during this webinar:

What is novel coronavirus or coronavirus disease (COVID-19)?

Coronavirus are a large family of viruses known to causes illnesses ranging from the common cold to the more severe ones like MERS and SARS. A novel coronavirus (nCov) is a new strain of coronavirus that has previously not been identified in humans. It has been suggested that nCov originated from Wuhan’s seafood market but the exact animal source of this outbreak is not definitively known.

How does coronavirus spread in humans?

Human coronaviruses most commonly spread from an infected person to another as follows:

  • By air such as through coughing or sneezing
  • Close personal contact such as touching or shaking hands
  • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth/nose/eyes before washing the hands
  • Rarely through fecal contamination

Should we use thermal scanners for everyone entering the society?

Thermal scanners are effective only in detecting those people who have a fever, but it doesn’t detect those who are infected but not yet showing symptoms of the infection. This is because it takes anywhere between 2-10 days for those who are infected to start showing symptoms like fever. Still, it’s a good practice to install thermal scanners in societies in order to detect people with clear symptoms like fever. 

Can pets spread coronavirus in the societies? 

Currently, there is no evidence that companion animals including pets like cats and dogs can be infected with the coronavirus. But it is advisable to always wash hands properly with soap and water after coming in contact with pets, and also avoid touching animal droppings with hands.

Is it possible that a person who doesn’t show any symptoms can still be infected?

Yes, about 40-60% of infected people don’t tend to show external symptoms like cold, cough, fever, etc. (asymptomatic) during the incubation period. Therefore, they might be infected and spreading the virus despite looking healthy. 

Can old people take walks within society? Any specific precautions they should take?

Elder citizens, especially with pre-existing conditions like diabetes, asthma, etc. are more susceptible to this infection, therefore it is advised for them to avoid physical contact like handshakes while maintaining good personal hygiene and washing hands properly with soap and water or sanitizers. But they can take walks within the society premises and should maintain at least 2 meters distance from others and wear a mask in case of mild symptoms like cold and cough. They are also advised to avoid all social gatherings at least for the next couple of weeks. 

Should children be allowed to play in the society playgrounds?

It’s okay for children to play outside, but it is strongly advised to avoid playing in big groups. If they need to do so, they should wear a mask and maintain a minimum 2 meters of physical distance. Swimming pools must also be avoided for the next couple of weeks. Playing in closed areas using common indoor playing equipment should be allowed only if all the surfaces are properly disinfected.

How to keep society equipment sanitized/disinfected?

The government has advised not using publicly open places like gyms within the societies. If used, all such surfaces of common society equipment including in the gyms and playground should be properly cleaned with disinfectants like ethanol, isopropyl, isopropanol, hydrogen peroxide, etc. 

Should everyone returning to their society from abroad be isolated? What does self-isolation mean?

Anyone who has recently returned from international trips but not yet showing any symptoms should also self-isolate themselves at home and limit physical contact with family members for at least 14 days to determine whether they are infected or not. In case any symptoms start showing up, maintain at least 2 meters of physical distance with everyone and visit your nearest physician.

Does everyone need to wear a mask?  

In case of mild symptoms or while traveling in crowded places or through public transport, wearing a mask is advised. Masks are not required for those who are not infected/not showing symptoms but are required by only those who are showing symptoms and need to travel using public transport. 

Can eating more Vitamin C rich food help fight against coronavirus?

Vitamin C is useful for increasing general immunity of the body which helps against all infections including Coronavirus. However, it doesn’t particularly help to prevent getting coronavirus as such. 

Should we avoid food order deliveries inside the society? 

For the next couple of weeks, it’s advised to get residents to collect food deliveries at the Society gate itself. If you must order food deliveries, use disinfectants on the food package to clean the surfaces before opening and using them. 

Are there any government guidelines that apartment societies should follow?

BBMP has shared an advisory for all RWAs in Bangalore, which can be found here. Even if your society doesn’t come under this jurisdiction, committee members of all apartment societies should share these guidelines with the society residents to help prevent the spreading of coronavirus within the societies.