Dubai: People can take simple steps to protect themselves and others from the spread of novel coronavirus while using shared public facilities.
Instead of getting panicky and being anxious, people can stay safe from the spread of Covid-19 by following a healthy lifestyle and good hygiene practices, said Dr. Atul Anant Aundhekar, general practitioner and CEO of Avivo Group.
Since the virus spreads through droplet secretions from infected people, gyms, pools, salons and shisha cafés are some of the facilities where residents need to be vigilant about preventive measures.
Giving tips to follow in such shared public facilities, Dr. Aundhekar told Gulf News that creating a hygienic island within one metre of one’s surroundings should be the main aim of residents to allay concerns.
For that, he said people have to use a combination of common sense, basic hygiene practices, seek assistance in ensuring cleanliness and be ready to clean up their own surroundings even in shared facilities.
“Please ask for assistance to ensure hygienic conditions in facilities that you visit. It is our right. If people can carry wet wipes to touch common surfaces and clean their surrounding area, it will be good.”
While washing or sanitising hands is considered the most important preventive measure against the coronavirus, maintaining a distance of three feet or one metre from people around is also a prudent step to ward off catching an infection, said Dr Aundhekar.
“When you are in a social place, just be watchful. Don’t get closer to people, especially those who are showing respiratory symptoms like repeatedly coughing and sneezing.”
Just as avoiding handshakes and hugs is important while greeting others, people should also be mindful about not touching inappropriately on surfaces in shared facilities.
“Also touching your face repeatedly if your hand is not washed or sanitised is as bad as inhaling the virus.”
Changing clothes immediately after reaching home and taking a shower twice a day are also additional safety measures that Dr. Aundhekar suggests.
“While people may wash their other clothes frequently, they hardly wash suits and ties. You have to dry clean them.”
At the gym
Gyms should ensure that machines are cleaned properly after each member’s use to ensure there is no sweat or cough/sneeze droplets on them, said Dr. Aundhekar.
“You can seek assistance from the gym to clean up the machine before you start using it.”
He said people should also share the responsibility of not spreading any illness from their side.
“Your respiratory hygiene is also very important. Cover your face with tissue paper or your flexed elbow while coughing or sneezing.”
In the swimming pool
Since the novel Coronavirus is not waterborne, Dr. Aundhekar said the spread of virus through swimming pool water should not be a cause of concern.
However, practicing basic hygiene before, during and after using the pool is a must.
Taking a shower in warm water, not cold or lukewarm water, before and after swimming is recommended, he said.
Keeping towels, swim wear and normal clothes for changing in hygienic conditions is also important.
Salons, beauty parlours
“Generally, salons, parlours and aesthetic clinics follow hygiene and disinfection practices when it comes to the tools they use. Similarly, it is good to follow disinfection techniques in furniture and other seating arrangements.”
It is important to use disposable blades, threads and waxing sticks and also disinfect the handles of the tools like razors, he said.
The golden rule in shisha cafés now should be “no sharing of pipes”, according to Dr Aundhekar.
“Either you afford one or you don’t smoke. Since shisha is directly touching mouth, nobody should share same shisha pipe with even friends and family members.”
He said customers have to make sure disposable pipes and filters are used.
Rohit Bharati, head of marketing - West Zone Group which runs Dubai restaurant Tashan that serves shisha, said the eatery maintains a hygiene checklist.
“From sanitisation of equipment to proper ventilation, everything is inspected on a daily basis. Each section has its separate cleaning material. A strict guideline is followed by the staff which includes change of uniform every shift, wearing hair restraints, sanitising of hands and more.”
“The Shisha at Tashan has its own section. After every use, the shishas are cleaned thoroughly before they are put back in action. The pipes and the water is changed per service.”
“Although, these are basic things and I suppose most people do it but it’s always good to reiterate the significance of good hygiene.”
Atul Shah, managing director of Euro Gulf Swimming Pools in Abu Dhabi, said the spread of coronavirus was not a big concern among regular pool visitors till recently as not many cases had been reported in the local community.
“But things are evolving fast and the authorities are taking additional measures like closing down the schools etc. So, I guess people will be more cautious now. Community pools are taking extra care about hygiene these days.”
Rajesh Balachandran, who lives in a Dubai community, said he was concerned about the spread of virus through the common gym in his apartment block as there are many nationalities including those hailing from severely affected countries using the gym.
“We don’t know who all used the machines before we use them. I don’t know if cleaning is frequently done. I usually use my own gloves and towel in the gym. But there are machines for which you have to use bare hands. You can’t be sure if it is safe.”